By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: February 2012
Julie Dermody, secretary of the Rogers County Election Board, mails information to voters who were a part of the massive redistricting process.
As secretary to the Rogers County Election since May of 2011, Julie Dermody has stayed busy. “The largest task I’ve had to complete since taking the reins in May has been the momentous task of redistricting,” she says. “The task is huge because of the booming in population: Rogers County has grown over 23 percent in the last decade. In 2000, the population came in at 70,641; in 2010, the population grew to a whopping 86,905 and continues to add new homes every month. This means that Rogers County has gone from a rural county to a suburban county. Thus, when the Oklahoma legislators finished dividing up the county in equal population segments for the Congressional, House and Senate as well as Judicial, with the County Commissioners doing the same, Rogers County ended up looking like a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle.”
The first part of the task was redrawing the lines. This was accomplished with the help and assistance of CSA – Center for Spatial Analysis, located in Norman at the University of Oklahoma. The precinct lines were redrawn only where they had to be drawn. Precincts cannot cross any Congressional, Judicial, State Senate and House, or Commission lines. “This left us few choices; we made only those changes that had to be made,” says Dermody.
The second part of the task was accomplished after the state completed the transition from the old to the new lines. This took place after the 15th of December. “Once we ran the report, we found that several thousand voters were not correctly transferred, and adjustments to the mapping had to be made. Our first report showed that 32,000 voters would need to be notified. After we finished the adjustments somewhere around December 22, we were happy to see that only around 15,000 were affected.”
In attempting to take care of the second part of the task (notification of voters), the board ran into a few obstacles. The Election Board budget did not allow for such a large mailing. “Press Group, a Tulsa metro mail house, once hearing our dilemma, offered a solution by printing the letter and voter ID cards. We sent the information to Press Group and then found out everything was a PDF and not a data file – more headaches! Finally, everything was printed and ready to be delivered to the United States Postal Service. All notifications had to be in voters’ hands by January 14.”
Growing pains are a given whenever there is substantial growth in a relatively short period of time. In Rogers County, one of those growing pains is the 911 address system. Some residences have experienced up to five address changes in the last six years. “Thus, we have our next obstacle,” says Dermody. “With the 15,000 piece mailing, as of today, over 3,000 have been returned because of addressing issues. Now we have the task of trying to notify voters of the changes and the need for them to fill out a new voter registration. We also want to make sure voters understand that patience needs to be had by all. The Rogers County Election Board wants to make this transition as easy as possible. We realize that the changes made will be difficult to understand, and we sincerely apologize. Remember, the changes we made were forced upon us. We made only the changes we absolutely had to make.”
If voters have any questions, please contact the Rogers County Election Board at (918) 341-2965 or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/voterinfo. Their new website, www.rogerscountyelectionboard.com, was scheduled to go public on February 1.
“Please remember that the new voter ID law is in effect, and voters must present either their voter ID card or a government-issued pictured ID in order to vote,” adds Dermody.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.
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