(OKLAHOMA CITY) - Most Oklahomans responding to a new poll on congressional redistricting did not know how many U.S. representatives the state has.
But respondents wanted their representatives to live near them and have similar interests, according to the poll conducted for The Daily Oklahoman and KWTV by the University of Oklahoma's political science department.
The random survey of 400 Oklahomans found that 47 percent did not know how many congressmen represent the state. Eighteen percent of respondents correctly said the state has six members of Congress.
Among those who guessed, 9 percent guessed too high and 26 percent guessed too low. The second-most popular answer was two, which is the number of U.S. senators from Oklahoma.
The poll, conducted Feb. 18-26, had a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
``It is not surprising most citizens don't know the number of representatives,'' said Gary Copeland, associate director for OU's Carl Albert Center for Congressional Research and Studies.
``It's consistent with our understanding of the level of knowledge voters have. That doesn't mean they're operating in some vast intellectual wasteland.''
The poll showed nearly two-thirds of respondents know the state is losing a congressional seat this year. The state Legislature and the governor are trying to redraw the existing districts into five after the 2000 U.S. Census showed Oklahoma's population did not grow as fast as other states.
Most respondents said they wanted Oklahoma's military bases to be in the same district and that they wanted the districts to keep the homes of their congressmen within 100 miles of them.
Respondents also said they wanted members of Congress to represent either rural or urban interests, but not both.
Whatever configuration is reached, 67 percent of those polled said the new congressional districts will benefit the politicians, not the citizens of Oklahoma.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature has presented three ideas on new boundaries and Gov. Frank Keating has presented his own version. Neither side agrees on the other's suggestion.
State Rep. Loyd Benson, head of the redistricting committee in the House, said the redistricting process is stalled with little sign of movement.
He said some of the voters' requests in the poll, such as keeping them within 100 miles of their representatives, are impossible. Benson, D-Frederick, also said he disagrees that representatives should cover all rural areas or urban areas.
A new plan must be approved before July 10, which is the deadline for congressional candidates to file for office.