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Save the Date: Our 2019 State Budget Summit is January 24, 2019. Tickets will go on sale Monday, December 10th. 

Education and health care frustration pushes against political gravity in tomorrow’s elections (Capitol Update)

by | November 5th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

Finally. It’s election week. This is one of those few elections in recent years in Oklahoma when things seem too close to call. Usually the statewide campaigns with money to spare have a good idea of where they are because they are polling pretty much up to the election. This year even the candidates or those close to them (except in secondary, non-competitive races) don’t seem to have much certainty. The consensus seems to be that the races are close enough that the candidates who can get their voters to the polls will be the winners. It’s about turnout. Polls with margins fairly near the margin of error are not sure predictors when the enthusiasm on one side or the other runs high.

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Stand against fear. Make an informed vote.

by | October 30th, 2018 | Posted in Elections | Comments (0)

Events of the last week have shaken all of us at Oklahoma Policy Institute, as they have many Oklahomans. Terrible violence based on hatred of another person’s race, religion, or ethnicity has existed throughout our country’s history, but so have courageous people coming together to stand against it.

While we mourn the victims in Pittsburgh and Kentucky and worry for the refugees seeking escape from violence and poverty in other nations, we are also proud to join with all of the Oklahomans, Americans, and human beings working every day to overcome hatred and make a better world.

When such tragedies occur, it is the responsibility of all of us who value diversity and believe in reconciliation to make ourselves heard even louder. In the local, state, and national elections happening next week, we have an opportunity to do this.

Early voting at County Election Boards begins this Thursday and Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Then all polling places statewide will be open next Tuesday, November 6th from 7am to 7pm.

Besides races for Congress, Governor, other statewide offices, and the Legislature, Oklahomans will vote on several judicial elections, district attorney races, and local offices. There are also five state questions on the ballot on issues ranging from optometry to school funding.

To help you get more information on how to vote and what you need to know about the state questions, we’ve compiled resources on our 2018 State Questions and Elections page. There you will find links to locate your polling place, fact sheets on each of the state questions, information about judicial races and links to much more.

Thank you for being an informed voter and an engaged Oklahoman. Feel free to share this information with anyone who could use it.

OKPolicyCast 39: Bad Voter, Good Voter (with David Glover)

by | October 16th, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (0)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

In recent years, Oklahoma has seen some of the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Turnout was well below the nation in the 2012 and 2016 presidential races. In our last governor’s race in 2014, Oklahoma had the fewest votes cast for governor going back to 1978. But that wasn’t always true in Oklahoma. For decades before the 2010s, Oklahomans voted at rates near or above the national average.

Then in June elections this year, Oklahomans showed up at unprecedented levels for a primary race. Will that energy continue, or will it die back down now that marijuana is not longer on the ballot?

To get at some of these questions about what influences voter turnout, I spoke to David Glover, the founder of the website badvoter.org. At badvoter.org, you can look up all the information you need to get registered to vote, vote by mail, or find your polling place. And, as we’ll discuss, you can also look up the recent voting history of your friends and family to see who’s a good voter or a bad voter.

You can find more information about the upcoming Oklahoma elections, state questions, and how to vote at okpolicy.org/okvotes.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

Will 2018 be the Year of the Woman in Oklahoma?

by | October 9th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (2)

Across the United States, 2018 is being heralded as the Year of the Woman in American politics. Building on a surge of activism following the election of Donald Trump, including the national women’s marches and the #metoo movement, the “Pink Wave” in electoral politics has led this year to a record number of women running for Congress and securing party nominations.  There will be 239 women on the ballot for House seats in November, compared to a previous high of 167, and 23 women on the ballot for Senate, breaking the prior record of 18. There will also be a record number of female nominees for Governor (16) on the ballot this November.

Oklahoma currently has among the lowest levels of female political representation. With only 21 female legislators out of 149 members of the Legislature (14.1 percent), we rank ahead of only Wyoming in the percentage of female legislators, and well below other states in our region.  And the situation isn’t improving – the number of women in the Legislature has been stuck between 19 and 21 since 2012.  Two years ago, when there were 43 new members elected to the Legislature, only five were women, although two additional women have since won seats in special elections. At the federal level, despite Oklahoma, in 1921, having elected the second-ever female Congressperson, only one other woman – Mary Fallin – has been elected to Congress in state history. 

Will Oklahoma make gains in increasing the number of female lawmakers in 2018? A careful look at candidate filings and results from the state’s primary elections shows that there is almost certain to be some increase in the number of women elected to the Legislature in November. But with few female Republicans on the ballot, any chance of a wave of women being swept into office will depend on Democrats making significant gains in November.

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OKPolicyCast 38: All The State Questions (with David Blatt and Carly Putnam)

by | October 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (1)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry with production help from Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

On November 6, besides voting for a new governor and several other state offices, Oklahoma voters will decide five state questions on topics from optometry to school funding. To help you make informed choices on these state questions, OK Policy has already released fact sheets for each one with background information and a summary of arguments made by both supporters and opponents. To add to this resource, today I spoke with OK Policy’s Executive Director David Blatt and Policy Director Carly Putnam to discuss what each of the five state questions on the ballot mean and what people are saying about them. This conversation will be one of the easiest ways for you to quickly get up to speed before election day.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

In final days before election, many pressures to go negative (Capitol Update)

by | August 20th, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

With about a week to go, the statewide runoff campaigns have turned negative. Surprise, Surprise. People wonder why this happens. It happens for two reasons: Neither candidate wants to lose — and it works. Most of us have something in our lives we’d just as soon everyone not know about. It could be something personal like an embarrassing family situation. Or, perhaps it’s something in our business dealings like a lawsuit. For people with a record in politics, it’s often having taken an unpopular stand on an issue or having made a stupid remark publicly.

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Reconsider the runoff

by | August 15th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (2)

Max West was an OK Policy summer intern. He is a recent graduate of Rogers State University with a degree in Public Affairs, and recently began law school at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

There were many surprising outcomes of the Oklahoma primary election in June. Some incumbents lost long-held seats, others came very close. We saw record turnout and even passed a medical marijuana state question. We also saw an unusually high number of primary races that failed to produce an outright winner and that will be decided in a runoff election later this month.

If history is a guide, many of the voters who flocked to the polls in June will sit out the election in August.  This means that a shrunken electorate will get to decide which candidates will move on to become their party’s candidate, and in many cases win election for their entire district.  Reduced turnout is one of several reasons why it is worth reconsidering the runoff and exploring other approaches to choosing our elected representatives.

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Five things we know about Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative elections – pre-runoff update

by | August 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (3)

Several months ago, we wrote about this year’s Oklahoma elections following the candidate filing period. Based on the unusually high numbers of open seats, candidates filing for office,  and challenges to incumbents, it already looked as if 2018 could be a landmark year in Oklahoma politics. Now, following what was an historic primary election in June, we know for certain that this is one of the most interesting and unexpected election years in Oklahoma in a long time. As we approach the runoff elections on August 28th, here are five things we know.

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Episode 33: Keith Gaddie on the forces shaking Oklahoma politics

by | July 10th, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (2)

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OK PolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

Keith Gaddie

A couple weeks ago was one of the most interesting and unexpected elections in Oklahoma in a long time. From a big surge in turnout, strong approval of medical marijuana, and numerous incumbents either being forced into a runoff or voted out altogether, it’s clear that something is changing in Oklahoma politics.

What happened, what does it mean for the coming runoffs and general elections, and what will our state look like after it all shakes out? To better understand these questions, I spoke to Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma and one of the most well informed, insightful, and balanced commentators on Oklahoma politics today.

You can download the podcast here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

More people voted, and it mattered (Capitol Update)

by | July 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

This election year in Oklahoma, and probably nationally, is shaping up to be one of the strangest in a while. So far, the best explanation seems to be “participation.” For quite a while now, a lot of people have just been absent from the political process. Probably many felt their participation didn’t matter. As a result, some candidates who logically would seem unelectable have gotten elected or re-elected because of the apathy. At least for this election cycle, that seems to have changed. Whether it’s the medical marijuana question or outrage over education and other issues, people voted, and it mattered.

But the question remains, what will be the effect of the increased participation. Well, it was immediately discernible on medical marijuana. It’s amazing what a 14-point victory will do. Before the election it was hard to find a politician speaking kindly of the state question. The governor was going to call a special session, and the legislature seemed ready to come in and re-write the measure. Now, it’s just fine to let the Health Department take care of it.

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