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Oklahoma population grew almost 9 percent since 2000

With 3.75 million people, Oklahoma added more than 300,000 residents in the last decade, but its growth rate was lower than the nation. The state will remain at five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
BY PAUL MONIES Modified: January 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm •  Published: December 21, 2010

“If you look at the states where seats were lost, they are mainly being lost in states where Barack Obama won,” Gaddie said. “They're mainly being gained in states where Obama lost, or where Obama is probably going to lose in 2012.”

Gaddie said Republicans control the redistricting process in most of the states that gained House seats.

Oklahoma, which grew 8.7 percent in the last decade, was No. 16 on the list for adding a House district, Gaddie said. With the latest population numbers, the House of Representatives would have to increase to 451 members for Oklahoma to gain a seat. It has been set at 435 members since 1911.

State redistricting

In February and March, the Census Bureau will release population and racial breakdowns so states can work on redrawing the boundaries for legislative districts.

Rep. Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, co-chairman of the state House steering committee on redistricting, said early estimates point to the addition of about 2,300 people per House district. Most House districts had about 34,000 people at the time of the last census.

The new data likely will show a continuation of the trend of faster growth in suburban Oklahoma City and Tulsa and slower growth in many rural areas.

“That in itself dictates that the lines are going to change, and especially in some rural areas, quite drastically,” DeWitt said. “It brings new districts into urban areas, as well.”

Legislative redistricting leaders have held several public meetings to gather input from residents and to educate them on the redistricting process. More meetings are planned for early 2011.

“At the end, the lines are going to change, and not everybody's going to be happy, but we're going to be as fair as we can and do the best we can,” DeWitt said.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, co-chairman of the Senate's redistricting committee, said committee members and staffers are preparing for the new data to be released next year.

“Clearly we have to draw fair and legal lines where the population lives,” Jolley wrote in an e-mail. “While there is additional population in the two metro areas, we will continue to have a healthy representation from rural areas as the census data will likely show.”

Legislative leaders and Gov.-elect Mary Fallin must agree on a state legislative redistricting plan by the end of the 2011 session in May. New lines for congressional and county districts are supposed to be finished before the candidate filing period for the 2012 elections.