Dillon Richards Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY — The state of Oklahoma is redrawing congressional districts, and it’s doing so out in the open.
It’s a system that has been criticized for years. But this year, public input is encouraged. One set of lines everyone is watching is the suddenly competitive District 5, which includes Oklahoma City.
There’s never been a redistricting process quite like this one in the state. COVID-19 takes much of the credit for that. The pandemic delayed a lot of Census data, which is why lawmakers are drawing the districts much later than usual – this fall.
“We went to hear from you. We want to hear what you think, what districts make sense,” said Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond.
Martinez chairs the House’s redistricting committee. He said he hopes to make the process open and transparent.
The state redraws congressional districts every 10 years to account for population changes. For example, Oklahoma is following many other places in seeing people move from rural areas to suburban areas.
"That's encouraging in some ways because it's maybe instead of a kid from rural Oklahoma going to OU or OSU and then moving to Dallas or Kansas City, maybe they're deciding to stay in Oklahoma City and work. So you have that population growth happening there,” Martinez said.
And the Fifth District is getting much attention right now. It covers much of Oklahoma County and spreads to the southeast.
It’s suddenly competitive after Democrat Kendra Horn’s upset win in 2018. Republican Stephanie Bice beat her last year for the seat.
A major question many people are asking: Will the district be redrawn fairly?
"The best way to do a lot of that is to do this all in the open. I mean, there's nothing happening behind closed doors, the public's welcome, for the first time in state history we're allowing public map submissions,” Martinez said.
Legislators are doing one town hall in each of the state’s five congressional districts, as well as two virtual town halls. To get a list of where and when they are, visit the As Seen On page.