Gerrymandering Wars Continue

  When Democrats regained Oklahoma's 1st district congressional seat, in 1972; they took steps to solidify their hold on the office. Page Belcher has served the Tulsa metro area for 20 years, but Jim Jones wrestled control and had sights on even higher office. When the Oklahoma legislature of 1981 began their business, drawing up new district maps was in order. The 10 year district lines would greatly help Democrats retain 5 of the 6 seats in the state's delegation to the US House of Representatives. To the east, Democrats held a strangle-hold of District 2. Jones and others liked the idea of carving south Tulsa out of District 1 and putting the ultra-Republican area of Tulsa County, and into the same district as Muskogee & Tahlequah. Some say it's rather suspicious that Democrat-appointed judges would step in coincidentally when Republicans finally get in position to draw district maps.  In all the years that Democrats abused gerrymandering powers, very little was printed in state newspapers about the bizarre district lines.
The 1982 Congressional Districts Map

  Just as Oklahoma's 5th District is distinctly the OKC metro district (and always should be), Tulsa is the home of District 1.  But the rest of the state is divided in to whatever remaining seats that congress officially apportions to the state. there were a total of 6 for several decades; but for this decade we have 5.   It was the Democrat legislatures of '81 & '91 who most aggregiously tunneled into Republican territories in a strategic manner, so as to keep a majority of seats in their party's control. Only the political tidal wave of '94 was able to finally flip the delegation. Republicans ended up with 5 of the 6 seats. Two years later, Gov. Keating convinced long-time Democrat congressman, Wes Watkins, to join the Republican party and run again for the District 3 seat (back then, District 3 was southeast Oklahoma). Republicans have dominated ever since.
  OklahomaWatch reports that a federal court ruling in Wisconsin could now put severe judicial oversight in place, when state legislatures draw district maps, each new decade. The 3-judge panel struck down Wisconsin's latest maps. that case is destined for the US Supreme Court. It seems an academic scholar has a formula called an "Efficiency Gap", by Eric McGhee, of california. The tactics being criticized in the gerrymander process are called:
  • Cracking, which is spreading ideologically like-minded voters across multiple districts so they can’t achieve a majority in any one.
  • Packing, which is concentrating many ideologically like-minded voters in a single district in order to concede that district and win surrounding ones.
The 1972 Congressional Districts Map

The Current (2012) Congressional Districts Map

  Let's look at what the controversial process of gerrymandering entails. In the chart to the right, you see that 50 people might be organized in a tidy and clearly divided manner. Government can either acknowledge the divide, or create another division which favors their outcomes by creating lines where no one would expect them.
ger·ry·man·der ˈjerēˌmandər/ verb 1. manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.