In The Know: Thousands brave bad weather for early voting | Some residents without power until next week | Election news & notes

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

‘I was determined’: Thousands brave weather to vote early in Oklahoma: The rain didn’t stop them. Neither did the piercing wind. Voters bundled into coats and masks and clung to umbrellas as an early morning storm in the Oklahoma City metro dared them to give up plans to vote early on Thursday. Oklahoma is still reeling from an ice storm that left more than 200,000 without power this week. Regardless, 50,200 Oklahomans cast their ballots in person by 5 p.m. on the state’s first day of early voting, the Oklahoma State Election Board reported. [The Oklahoman]

  • However long it takes’: Starting in the rain and ending in sunshine, voters line up at ONEOK Field to cast early ballots [Tulsa World]
  • Early voting begins, OKC voters met with hourslong wait times [The Oklahoman]
  • Early voting begins across Oklahoma amid record turnout [AP News]
  • Election will happen with or without power [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Thousands cast ballots on first day of early voting at ONEOK Field [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Early voting is available in the county where you are registered to vote. Early voting will be held 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 29 & 30, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 31 [Oklahoma State Election Board]
  • Early voting locations in Oklahoma, listed by county [Oklahoma State Election Board]

Oklahoma ice storm among worst to affect state utility: An ice storm that struck Oklahoma this week is among the worst ever to affect the state’s largest utility system, the company’s president said Thursday. “This is probably the most severe storm we’ve ever had on our system,” according to OGE Energy Corp. CEO, Chairman and President Sean Trauschke. We probably had in excess of 500,000 outages,” and repairs could take up to a week to complete. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma power outage: Numbers to know as work continues to get power back on [The Oklahoman]
  • OG&E still assessing power restoration times [CNHI via Claremore Progress]
  • After ice storm, some OKC residents may not have electricity until late next week [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OKC metro schools cancel Friday classes, adjust next week [The Oklahoman]
  • Early ice storm creates unique challenges for Oklahoma health care providers [StateImpact Oklahoma via KGOU]
  • Long recovery expected following Oklahoma ice storm [KOSU]
  • Ice storm 2020: The end is not near [Journal Record]
  • Opinion: Ice storm is a teachable moment for those temporarily without power [OKC Free Press]

COVID 19: 1,041 new infections and 20 more deaths reported in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 1,041 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths Thursday — including two in Tulsa County — as the statewide seven-day rolling average continues to surpass 1,000 new cases daily. Numbers released around 9 p.m. Thursday show that 120,193 Oklahomans have had or still have COVID-19 and that 1,306 Oklahomans have died from the disease. [Tulsa World]

  • Each case of COVID-19 has a cost, which differs from state to state according to the rate of uninsured and other factors – and Oklahoma’s costs are around the middle of the pack at $124 per COVID-19 case, according to a recent report. [Journal Record]

Election News

These Oklahoma politicians gave misinformation a boost: An Oklahoma Watch investigation into the spread of misinformation, which looked at how frequently state political parties and politicians shared content flagged by fact-checkers on Facebook this year, found Murdock, R-Felt, was one of the most prolific sharers of posts identified on the site as false or misleading. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy: Choose healthy news over junk.

Critics of SQ 814 explain pitfalls of funding change: A state question on Tuesday’s ballot threatens to erode health care outcomes, the head of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Thursday. Dr. George Monks, the group’s president, joined former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and others in a virtual press conference to urge voters to turn down State Question 814. The Legislature put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. It would change the funding process for the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, created 20 years ago by a vote of the people. [Tulsa World] OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 814 available at

Supporters of SQ 805 slam foes’ ‘fear-mongering’ of reform petition: Proponents of a sentencing-reform measure on the general election ballot pushed back Thursday against an opposition campaign they say exploits fear and misinformation. State Question 805, which reached the ballot through an initiative petition, would amend the state constitution to bar prison sentences that exceed statutory guidelines because of prior convictions for nonviolent crimes. It is intended, supporters say, to curb Oklahoma’s high incarceration rates and their social and economic consequences. Many in law enforcement oppose the measure and say it would allow for the earlier release of repeat offenders for crimes such as burglary and domestic abuse. But Goss and others supporters say advertisements opposing the state question go too far. Some are particularly upset about a television ad they compare to the “Willie Horton” spot from the 1988 presidential campaign. [Tulsa World] OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 805 available at

  • How a domestic violence loophole could doom a campaign to cut Oklahoma’s harsh prison sentences [Mother Jones]
  • Dozens of Tulsa religious leaders announce their support for SQ805 as voting begins [Public Radio Tulsa]

SQ 805 would put limitation of criminal penalties in Oklahoma constitution: SQ 805 will be on Oklahoma’s Nov. 3 ballot, but its proposal was originally developed in 2016 when a comprehensive, statewide task force assembled to identify prison reform initiatives that could dethrone Oklahoma as No. 1 in the world for incarceration rates. The Pew Charitable Trust and The Crime and Justice Institute, national leaders in policy analysis and development, led the Oklahoma Justice Reinvestment Task Force. Recommendation No. 11 advised Oklahoma lawmakers to revise sentence enhancements for nonviolent offenders. [NonDoc] OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 805 available at

Oklahoma teenagers want their voices heard to make the world ‘a better place’ (video): Most Oklahoma high schoolers can’t vote and that isn’t lost on them. But, they all want to have a bigger influence on the 2020 election, which they feel will have an outsized influence on their future. So in a series of Zoom focus groups last week, StateImpact and Generation Citizen asked Oklahoma high school students for a discussion about how they are consuming and using information about each candidate’s campaign and platform. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • College football players and the election: ‘We’re the next generation of voices. It’s no longer acceptable to sit on the sidelines.’ [Tulsa World]

Opinion: We have a choice to be compassionate: America has a momentous choice to make in the next few days. No, I am not talking about the election. I am talking about how we will treat each other after the election. Any election is cause for some angst and anxiety. But, as with everything else in 2020, the negative mental health effects of this election cycle are on some form of steroids unknown to even the Russian Olympic squad. America, on the eve of this election, is a nation on the brink of tearing itself apart. [Opinion / Enid News & Eagle]

Opinion: Moving beyond national elections: We often hear that “all politics is local,” and this statement is still true today. I would add the importance of state politics as well. While we often focus on the presidential election every four years, this year, state and local elections are just as important, if not more. You might not think that when you consider the amount of money spent on the national elections, but it’s true. While state and local politics may not be as flashy as national politics, I believe state and local elections are just as crucial. [Opinion / Norman Transcript]

Health News

Health Department reports 9 new flu-related hospitalizations in Oklahoma: Nine additional Oklahomans were hospitalized statewide for flu-related illnesses during the past week, including two in Tulsa County, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Thursday. There have been 26 hospitalizations in the state since Sept. 1, including that of an infant in Tulsa County, but no deaths have been reported. All but two hospitalizations have been of patients 50 and older, and the median age of those hospitalized has been 70. [The Oklahoman]

  • Tulsa Public Schools, Oklahoma Caring Van team up to offer free flu shots for kids [Public Radio Tulsa]

TSET helps PMTC lure 42 doctors to rural, underserved communities: A partnership between the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Oklahoma Physician Manpower Training Commission (PMTC) has resulted in the successful placement of 42 doctors in more than two dozen cities. The physician loan repayment program benefits rural and underserved communities across the state. [Southwest Ledger]

State Government News

Initial state unemployment claims decline by 13%: Initial claims for state jobless benefits declined by 13% last week compared to the prior one-week period, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 4,591 workers filed for first-time jobless benefits with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. That’s 686 fewer than the revised number of workers who filed initial claims during the week ending Oct. 17. Continuing claims also declined by 14,314 to 59,007 the week ending Oct. 17. [Tulsa World] Initial and continued unemployment insurance benefit claims, and the four-week moving average for continued claims declined for the 18th consecutive week, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported on Thursday. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma County Sheriff race, state questions, tribal gaming compacts & more (audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the outgoing Republican Oklahoma County Sheriff endorsing the Democratic candidate for the election to replace him, SQ 805 to remove sentence enhancements for nonviolent offenders and State Question 814 to take money from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to give to lawmakers to pay for Medicaid expansion. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

Tribal leaders unite against potential federal legislation: Leaders of three of the Five Tribes released a statement on Thursday opposing legislation in response to the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision. [KOSU]

USDA provides $26.4M for rural broadband: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing is investing $26.4 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Oklahoma. The investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Department Of Corrections halts awarding credits for good behavior: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections intends to stop reducing prisoners’ sentences in exchange for good behavior and their participation in programs designed to help them restart their lives after prison. The agency announced the decision after getting an informal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office. [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“I’m 68 years old, and my voice is important. I was determined no matter what the hardship to continue on and make my voice heard.”

-Lynn Barnes speaking about her 90-minute wait in the pouring rain to cast her early vote on Thursday. [The Oklahoman]  

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahomans who participated on the first day of early voting by 5 p.m. on Thursday 

[Source: Oklahoma State Election Board via The Oklahoman]  

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

5 Things You May Not Know About Local Election Officials: The highly decentralized nature of our election system creates a patchwork of approximately 10,000 jurisdictions at the county or municipal level. At the heart of every one are local election officials, and in many ways they are the unsung heroes of our democracy. That’s because when they do their jobs well, they often go largely unnoticed. Tens of millions of Americans routinely vote without facing long lines or other challenges, but I’ve never seen see a headline of “Local Election Official Aces Incredibly Complex Technological and Administrative Test.” To be sure, no election official (or election) is perfect, and one disenfranchised voter is too many. And it’s appropriate to have incredibly high expectations of these stewards of our democracy. But many of the recent public attacks that they are facing are unfair and untrue. [Brennan Center for Justice]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.