Gerrymandering

 courtesy of People not Politicians

People Not Politicians held a town hall discussion at the Stillwater Public Library on Monday.

More than two dozen community members gathered at the Stillwater Public Library on Monday to participate in a town hall discussion on partisan gerrymandering.

Andy Moore, executive director of People not Politicians, spoke to the crowd as part of the organization’s “Ten Cities Tour.”

“There’s a bunch of things that have to do with the fabric of our democracy that we don’t talk about,” Moore said. “Oklahomans are sick of politicians ignoring our state’s real problems, and focusing on getting re-elected,”

Several maps of Oklahoma electoral districts were displayed as examples of gerrymandered districts, including District 34 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers most of Stillwater.

People not Politicians filed its petition proposal Oct. 28, and is now preparing for the signature collection effort.

The town hall was held in coordination with the Stillwater chapter of the League of Women Voters, one of the organizations involved in the petition initiative. 

Joanne Murer, former president of the Stillwater chapter, was one of members in attendance. This is the first time Murer has attended a People not Politicians meeting, and she indicated that she would most likely help with the signature collection effort.

“I’m very interested in this,” Murer said. “At one point a few years back … I went to our national convention in Dallas, and they talked about gerrymandering, and it really struck a chord with me.”

The proposed petition would change the Oklahoma Constitution by requiring a Citizens’ Independent Redistricting Commission be responsible for redrawing congressional districts. Currently, the authority to redraw these districts resides with the legislators themselves.

Robert Turner, a Stillwater resident, expressed concerns about the fairness of the current system.

“I’ve always been about making sure that things are done fair,” Turner said. “The reason why a lot of people don’t vote is because they’re so discouraged.

“What we’re dealing with in the area of gerrymandering, is that the districts have been jockeyed to where they work in the favor of the people who are in office.”

Members of the commission would be screened by panel of retired judges, appointed by the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The judges would review applications submitted by the public to ensure the eligibility of those considered. 

To be eligible as a commissioner, an applicant must have been a citizen of Oklahoma for five years, and had the same registered political affiliation for four. People who have been a lobbyist, nominated political candidate, or legislative staffer within the last five years are ineligible, as are members of their family.

From the pool of eligible applicants, a nine- person commission would be selected. Six of the seats would be split evenly between the two major political parties, with the remaining three commissioners being independent of those parties.

People not Politicians will be hosting a town hall in Oklahoma City at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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