It’s never too early to start thinking about the 2022 election cycle, right?

Now that Oklahoma’s special redistricting session is over and Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law the new redistricting maps, the state’s political landscape is becoming clearer.

I’ve previously reported on how the number of uncontested legislative races have been on the rise over the past several years. So I was curious if the new redistricting maps will create a more competitive playing field moving forward.

But after running the numbers, it doesn’t look like Oklahoma voters can expect too many more competitive anytime soon.

According to Dave’s Redistricting App, a program used by the Legislature to solicit public feedback, 40 of the state’s 48 Senate districts will now lean Republican while four lean Democratic and four fall in the 45–55% competitive range in the Senate. 

In the 101-member House, 78 will now lean Republican, nine will lean Democratic and 14 fall in the 45–55% competitive range in the House.

Altogether, that is one fewer district in the 45-55% competitive range than the old maps. 

As you can see in this map I created below, most of these competitive districts are concentrated in the urban areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

You can read my full article on Oklahoma Watch to find out why this is, what party officials have to say about and what the effect is on voters who might not have anything to vote on if there are uncontested races next year.

Finding a solution to this issue is difficult. Although some say the answer is to move to a bipartisan and independent redistricting panel, that type of proposal will now have to wait until the next redistricting cycle in 2030.

But want to know what you think? Do you think it’s a problem that Oklahoma tends to have so many uncontested or uncompetitive legislative contests? And what do you think should be done about it? Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

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State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced that the Oklahoma Democratic Party will continue to allow independents to vote in its primaries in 2022 and 2023.

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What I’m Reading This Week

  • The rolling three-day average number of Oklahoma COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 500 on Thursday for the first time since late October, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said. [The Associated Press]
  • Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor is asking businesses to hold off on implementing vaccine mandates while his office and other attorneys general continue to litigate the issue. [Journal Record]
  • A dark money group is spending about $160,000 to air cable television commercials in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that paint Gov. Kevin Stitt as soft on crime. Conservative Voice of America, a newly formed group that offers few public details about itself and no information about its funders, recently purchased three weeks of airtime to run anti-Stitt ads on the Fox News Channel. [Oklahoman]
  • State lawmakers are still grappling with how best to spend Oklahoma’s $1.8 billion in American Rescue Plan money, but a committee has outlined some priorities. [Public Radio Tulsa]

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