Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oklahoma lawsuit filed challenging state Senate redistricting plan

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court challenging the state Senate's redistricting plan, which is being used to draw up voting precincts for state elections during the next 10 years beginning with 2012.
The lawsuit by state Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, also is seeking a court order to stop state election officials from developing new precincts.
Granting such an order would jeopardize next year's elections, the state's top election official warned Tuesday.
“Any delays in drawing and implementing new precincts will likely result in voter chaos, confusion or disenfranchisement,” state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “The Election Board must know all district lines to use for new precincts by the end of this week, or this process cannot be completed on time.”
The Election Board is required every 10 years to redraw voting precincts in all 77 counties after new legislative, congressional and county commissioner districts are set, he said. Precinct lines cannot cross district lines.
“All district lines including Senate district lines must be known to draw new precincts for the 2012 elections,” Ziriax said. “The months long process of drawing and implementing new precincts must be completed before the candidate filing period for the presidential preferential primary begins Dec. 5, which is the beginning of the 2012 election cycle in Oklahoma.
“The Election Board cannot print ballots, program voting scanners or conduct elections without precincts.”
Wilson had previously filed with the state Supreme Court who rejected his suit, but told the senator he could file in district court.
In a 9-0 ruling on Thursday, the state’s high court ruled the new Senate districts comply with population requirements outlined in the state constitution.

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