Posts Tagged: ‘SQ 748’

State Question No. 748: A State Divided

September 1, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Every 10 years the Federal Government holds a nation wide census. This census is done to count the number of people living in the nation. This counting greatly affects many aspects of not only the Federal Government but also our State Governments.

One of the biggest effects had by the census is in our representation in both the State and Federal government. The census determines how many Representatives each state has in the Federal government. Oklahoma currently has 5. This number is not expected to change, but if it does, the census will let us know.

The state also has an opportunity to redraw our State and Federal Representative districts the year following a census. That will be happening this coming 2011 Session, but with a potential change. On the November Election Ballot, the voters will be asked a question that changes the way the commission assigned to redrawing the districts is formed. The text is as follows:

This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.  These provisionsdeal with how the Legislature is divided into districts.  This process is known as apportionment.  The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census.  If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so.  The measure changes the name of this Commission.  It removes all three existing Commission members.  It removes the Attorney General.  It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  It also removes the State Treasurer.

The measure increases the number of members from three to seven.  The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.

The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a nonvoting member.  It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission.

The proposed change will change the way members are added in a supposed “bi-partisan” way. This will include 3 representatives of the Republican Party and 3 representatives of the Democratic Party. This sounds good on the surface, but there a couple of big issues. Why are there no representatives of the over 300 thousand registered Independents in this state? Additionally, this language would exclude any new parties that form in this state.

As a supporter of voter freedom and Ballot Access Reform, I cannot support any effort to write any political party into our state constitution. The language of this amendment flies in the face of what I hold a supreme right of the people of this state. What will happen when one of these parties fails and is no longer recognized in this state (not that that will happen since both the Democratic and Republican Parties are written into our election laws, but that is a topic for another article)? The people will once again have to amend the State Constitution to account for that change.

With all that in mind, I will be voting no on this measure and I recommend that all people do the same.