As Oklahoma Voter Turnout Wanes, Election Reform Efforts Gain Support

Mar 1, 2016

Voter turnout for Tuesday's presidential primary in Oklahoma is expected to be above normal, according to the State Election Board. That’s good news in a state that has seen a steady decline over the years in voter participation.

But changes are being made and proposed to improve the way Oklahomans can register to vote and cast a ballot, albeit slowly for some.

Turnout numbers for the last presidential election year from the State Election Board show that of the 73.5 percent of Oklahomans registered to vote in 2012, just 51 percent actually did. That’s the third-lowest turnout in the nation, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Republican state Sen. David Holt of Oklahoma City introduced nine election reform bills last year intended to improve voter turnout. Two were signed into law, including an online voter registration system that will make it easier for Oklahomans to sign up to vote.

The web-based system will go live in about three years, according to the State Election Board.

A number of other reforms could make it even easier to vote in Oklahoma, including a ‘top-two’ election system that is used now in more than 10 other states. The system would do away with a runoff system and advance the top two candidates to a November election if no candidate received 50 percent of the vote.

In addition, all voters regardless of party affiliation would be eligible to vote. Such a bill was introduced by Senator Holt last session, but did not win enough support for passage.

For the complete audio report on Oklahoma election reform, go to Oklahoma Watch Report.