LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Every 10 years the house and senate districts across the State of Oklahoma are redrawn and Monday, a public forum was held in Lawton to allow people to ask questions about the process.
Former Lawton Representative and Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon walked those in attendance through the redistricting process, the importance of it and how the census impacts it.
“The census data directly ensures that each community receives its fair share of political representation through congressional apportionment and legislative redistricting,” Shannon said.
Representatives from across southwest Oklahoma were on hand tonight to answer questions and take feedback from their constituents.
“We can take that information about keeping certain communities whole and stuff of that nature and we can take that back to the actual redistricting process when we go out and actually start drawing the districts after we get the final apportionment number from the federal government,” said Rep. Trey Caldwell.
Concerns from the crowd focused on issues like rural vs. urban areas and whether or not the decreasing population in southwest Oklahoma could impact the area’s representation at the Capitol.
“Our government works for the people so we want their input and my personal opinion is to have a bottom-up approach where we take input from the people then we go and try to put that into a good solid policy that can move Oklahoma forward,” Caldwell said.
The goal is to make every district across the state equal in terms of population. They’ll base it off of the data gathered by the census last year. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, that data is being delayed in getting to the legislators...but Representative Caldwell doesn’t expect it to be an issue.
“I think we’ll be able to handle it fine, I think there’s enough slack time that’s in that process and we can work off the estimate numbers to get a general idea and when the final numbers come in we can kind of fine-tune it and hone it,” Caldwell said.
When the new districts are drawn later this year, each House district is expected to be around 38,000, with each Senate district expected to be around 82,000 people.