Low Voter Turnout

Resident:

Leroy Davis, South Oklahoma City

 

Context: Davis said he believes his neighborhood’s poor living conditions are a result of low voter turnout. He said residents need to be actively involved in their community and politics if they want to see things improve. When Davis gestures to “that building,” he is pointing to the State Capitol.


Response:

Doug Sanderson, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary

 

Context: The Oklahoma County Election Board does not set election-process policies, such as deadlines for voter registration and rules for absentee or mail-in ballots. Those rules are set by the state. Sanderson mentioned absentee ballots, but Oklahoma’s hurdles for voting absentee are greater than those in some other states. For instance, an application to vote absentee must be renewed every calendar year, and such mail-in ballots cannot be dropped off at a polling place. Oklahomans also cannot register to vote online. Sanderson would not comment on specific ideas intended to increase voter turnout, saying his position does not involve making policy.


A Deeper Look:

Low Participation

This map shows the voter turnout by city council ward during the last contested election. Click on a ward to see turnout rates. Council wards are large, so it’s difficult to determine whether turnout rates vary by average income of a neighborhood. In general, turnout was low in recent electioins, ranging from 4 percent to 13 percent of registered voters in a ward.

Source: Oklahoma County Election Board.

 

Stooping to New Lows

An analysis of statewide voting data shows:

* Voter turnout on Nov. 4, 2014, was possibly the lowest on record in a state gubernatorial election, according to an analysis of state voting data.

* Statewide, 40.7 percent of registered voters showed up, the lowest recorded rate since 1962. Oklahoma started tracking voter registration at the state level in 1960.

* Data compiled by the U.S. Election Project shows 29 percent of Oklahoma’s eligible voting population went to the polls, the sixth-lowest rate in the nation. This rate includes registered voters as well as people who are eligible to register but didn’t. The national rate was about 33 percent.

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