In The Know: Hundreds of votes go uncounted during November election

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 4 election ended up not being counted by election officials. While many were excluded for valid reasons, the Tulsa World found that at least two ballots had not been counted due to a mistake by the election board. Community leaders in Tulsa said the city has made progress in reducing distrust of law enforcement among blacks and Hispanics, but more needs to be done. Some Oklahoma Muslims say increasing discrimination in the state is creating the worst environment they have faced. A Tulsa World poll found 54 percent of Oklahomans viewed Islam unfavorably, but almost 80 percent said Muslims should enjoy the same religious freedoms as other Americans.

A sharp drop in crude oil prices caused shares in Oklahoma’s largest oil and gas companies to fall between 12 and 30 percent on Friday. Justia analyzed the ruling that ordered Continental Energy CEO Harold Hamm to pay a $1 billion divorce settlement. Following a large demonstration by Norman High students and community members against how three sexual assault victims were treated at the school, the district’s superintendent said they will make reforms that seek to be a national model in sexual assault curriculum policies. The Oklahoman wrote that lawmakers have no excuses not to pursue criminal justice reforms to reduce incarceration. Former Oklahoma Secretary of Health Tom Adelson wrote in the Tulsa World that predictions of an Obamacare ‘trainwreck’ have not come true. Two events are coming up in Tulsa to help people learn about obtaining health insurance through the marketplace exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.

Tulsa World opinion editor Wayne Greene gave recommendations to fix the state’s broken budgeting process. The Oklahoman wrote that two separate AG opinions finding that the Legislature illegally shifted funds when making this year’s budget show a need for budget reforms. OK Policy previously discussed how the Legislature’s funding grabs have threatened low-income college students and the uninsured. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and former state Treasurer Scott Meacham argued in NewsOK that Oklahoma schools are failing, but they said we should not have a serious discussion about increasing funding until we change teacher tenure and compensation, create higher curriculum standards, and hold back more students. The Tulsa World argued that the reinstatement of Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver still does not justify revoking Common Core standards.

The Oklahoman praised OK Policy’s newly updated CountyStats tool that provides fact sheets with key data for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. You can see the latest CountyStats fact sheets here. Oklahoma lawmakers and managers of the Capitol restoration project traveled to Kansas to get tips on Capitol repair. The EPA has awarded more than $14.2 million to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to fund drinking water systems throughout the state. The Number of the Day is number of Oklahomans exonerated after being falsely convicted between 1989 and 2014. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress shares how the Affordable Care Act is helping LGBT Americans.

In The News

Hundreds of votes go uncounted during November election

Travis Rice expressed surprise when he was told the ballot he cast earlier this month during the Oklahoma general election hadn’t counted. “That doesn’t make me happy,” Rice said, when informed by the Tulsa World that his provisional ballot had been rejected. “They told me it would count,” the Jenks resident said, quoting what precinct workers told him when he cast the provisional ballot. Rice was among hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 4 election that ended up not being counted by election officials, records show.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Community leaders, police discuss Tulsa’s efforts in wake of Ferguson violence

The year was 2001, and tensions between some black Tulsans, including black police officers, and the Tulsa Police Department were running high. At the time, a federal lawsuit against the city by 19 black police officers alleging bias in promotion, training and discipline remained unsettled after four years. Another federal lawsuit was filed after officers handcuffed a 15-year-old boy and pepper-sprayed his mother, the wife of a police officer, after mistaking their car for one reported stolen earlier.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Faith leaders seeing increasing tension between Islam, Christianity in Oklahoma

Tensions have increased this year between Islam, the fastest-growing religion on the planet, now embraced by a quarter of mankind, and Oklahoma’s largely Christian population. The rise of the violently anti-Christian Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, anti-Muslim forums around the state by an Oklahoma lawmaker and a beheading in Moore all have contributed to what some Tulsa Muslims say is the worst environment they have faced.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Poll: Oklahomans not keen on Islam, but defend the right to practice it from the Tulsa World.

Crude Oil Prices Down Sharply Affecting Oklahoma Companies

A sharp drop in crude prices tugged down shares in oil and gas companies on Friday, leading the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to a slight loss in a short trading session. The index, a benchmark for many investments, still closed out November with its third-best month this year. reports: The damage, reflected in stock prices, was widespread this week among our local energy firms. SandRidge Energy shares fell 30 percent; Continental Resources was off 28 percent; Chesapeake dropped 16 percent; and Devon slid 12 percent.

Read more from KGOU.

Norman seeks to be national model in sexual assault curriculum policies

The demonstration outside Norman High School Monday, November 24, sent a clear message that the school’s student body will not tolerate sexual assault and the re-victimization of any victims. We always have supported this message. There is not an administrator or teacher at Norman High who does not want our students to feel safe, secure and supported in their school. Following the Thanksgiving break, our district will announce details regarding the immediate expansion of an already-existing task force that has been studying the implementation of a comprehensive, research-based sexual assault curriculum with student instruction. 

Read more from the Norman Transcript.

No excuse for Oklahoma policymakers not to pursue corrections reform

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Oklahoma Policy Institute are serious, reputable think tanks with vastly different worldviews. The former champions a conservative, free-market approach to government. It favors tax cuts. OK Policy generally sees government spending and taxation as the solution, not the problem, to issues facing the state.

Read more from The Oklahoman.

Former Oklahoma state senator: Obamcare ‘trainwreck’ has not occurred

The Republican prediction on the “Obamacare trainwreck” has not borne out. The law’s opponents warned that insurance premiums would skyrocket as a result of the newly enrolled who, we were told, would be older and sicker, and thus drive rates up for everyone as overall health expenditures soared. That did not happen.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Events planned to help with health insurance enrollment from the Tulsa World.

How to fix the state’s broken budgeting process

The state’s budget-writing process is broken. You don’t have to ask me. Ask a legislator. In fact, if you catch them when their guard is down, you can ask the handful of people who actually write the budget. Year after year, whether Republicans run the Legislature or Democrats, whether one party dominates the state Capitol or we have split government, the budgeting process is screwy, some years screwier than others.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma AG opinions show need for budget reform

Legal opinions issued by Attorney General Scott Pruitt indicate that lawmakers improperly diverted millions from some dedicated accounts to other areas of government this year. Those opinions highlight, once again, the need to improve state budget writing and oversight of agency finances. Among other things, legislators voted to take $5 million from the Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund and place it in the Special Cash fund, which was then tapped for other uses.

Read more from The Oklahoman.

See also: Legislature’s wandering budget hands get slapped again from the OK Policy Blog.

Keating, Meacham: Quality of Oklahoma’s education needs dramatic improvement

This Republican and Democrat agree wholeheartedly on at least one thing: The quality of education in Oklahoma must improve dramatically. As the old saying goes, “the numbers don’t lie.” Currently, 45.1 percent of Oklahoma’s students require some form of remediation before they’re ready to take regular college classes.

Read more from NewsOK.

Waiver reinstatement doesn’t justifiy Common Core decisions

The U.S. Department of Education has reinstated Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver, relieving about 90 percent of state schools from potential penalties because of the Oklahoma Legislature’s foolish decision to revoke Common Core school standards. When Common Core was abandoned without adequate assurances in place that the residual standards would produce college- and career- ready graduates, the U.S. Department of Education decided not to renew the state’s waiver.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Who Gets the Black Gold? Harold Hamm Ordered to Pay $1 Billion in Divorce Settlement

Divorces can often be ugly, acrimonious, and hard-fought. The divorce between Sue Ann and Harold Hamm was not special in that regard. She accused him of having an affair—his first marriage ended when he was accused of having an affair with Sue Ann—and filed for divorce. What made this divorce special is that the parties were fighting over billions.

Read more from Justia.

Statistics tell interesting story

The Oklahoma Policy Institute does a marvelous job gathering and analyzing information. Its crunching of numbers on state finances is a valuable tool for journalists, policymakers and the public. An update is now available for an OKPolicy tool called CountySTATS, which details demographic information for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. (Check it out at

Read more from The Oklahoman.

See also: Oklahoma CountySTATS 2014 from OK Policy.

Oklahoma Lawmakers get Kansas Capitol Repair Tips

Officials in Oklahoma are getting some tips from their counterparts in Kansas before launching a multi-year, multi-million dollar restoration project on Oklahoma’s 100-year-old state Capitol. More than a dozen Oklahoma lawmakers and managers of the Capitol restoration project traveled to Topeka, Kansas, this week to examine that state’s Capitol, where this year a nearly $330 million, 13-year restoration project was completed.

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

$14.226 Million In EPA Funding Will Improve Drinking Water Quality And Infrastructure In Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $14,226,000 to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to fund drinking water systems throughout the state. The amount is awarded through EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which gives states low-interest, flexible loans for drinking-water projects.

Read more from KGOU.

Quote of the Day

“Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and a handful of other Republican senators authored legislation to replace Obamacare with the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act. This legislation retains important features of Obamacare while shifting millions of Medicaid enrollees into private health plans funded by a public subsidy, a plan that bears similarities to our successful Insure Oklahoma. Obamacare exchanges are introducing competition to the marketplace, offering consumers more choices while helping contain rate increases. The fact that Coburn retained so much of Obamacare in his reform recognizes there are a lot of positives in this law, however controversial it may be.”

-Former state senator and Oklahoma Secretary of Health Tom Adelson (Source:

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans exonerated after being falsely convicted between 1989 and 2014. Oklahoma ranks 16th in the US for exonerations over that period.

Source: Oklahoma Watch

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Moving the Needle: The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on LGBT Communities

Neil, an African American gay man living in the South, lost his job—and his health coverage—in 2010. That same year, he was diagnosed with HIV. He struggled for years without the medication he needs, which costs $3,000 a month and is not covered by public programs available in his home state. Under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, however, financial assistance is available to help make coverage more affordable, and plans are not allowed to discriminate against people living with HIV or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or LGBT. When the health insurance marketplaces that were established under the law opened in October 2013, Neil found a plan he can afford that covers the medications he needs. “The Affordable Care Act,” he says, “is something that is helping me, so that I can live.”

Read more from the Center for American Progress.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

One thought on “In The Know: Hundreds of votes go uncounted during November election

  1. Let’s see if we understand our former officials, one a “drop in, be governor, flee the state the second the term is over” and the other an “expert” in the finance profession that has done so much for the 99% the last 7 years. According to them, what OK needs in its education system is more testing and less teaching, done by instructors whose legal protections against any and all charges, warranted or not, have been taken away, justified by attacks on the profession as a whole but with promises that legislators who have never paid them what they are worth will pay them more based on “merit” evaluations skewered by actual statisticians nationally and test-management by administrators needing more “professional managerial training.” Has genius ever been more obvious?

    Their self-professed brilliance on education is parroted bilge water that has in other states succeeded only in diverting public dollars into the hands of the 1% and their pay-to-play entourages over the last decade. Not surprising from the “do I actually live in OK?” former governor (who also self-professed brilliantly killed the 1990s criminal justice reform that made the 2010s version necessary, btw, and started up private prisons) but also a sign why Democrats in OK have no chance of ever actually dealing effectively with the problems of the 99%’ers in the state either. But at least the money grabbing and the pay-to-play that will follow in OK education will be bipartisan. That’s what’s most important, after all.

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