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What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Every vote counts: Voting is one of our most important responsibilities as Americans, but it’s a civic exercise in which far too few Oklahomans participate. A little more than half of eligible Oklahoma voters cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election, which ranked us 46th nationally for low voter turnout. It gets even worse when you look at the March 3 presidential primary, where only about 1 in 5 eligible Oklahomans made it to the polls. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

We’re Hiring

We’re hiring for Legislative and Outreach Director: OK Policy is now hiring for its Legislative and Outreach Director. This position is responsible for representing the organization by developing and maintaining close working relationships with key audiences and partners, including members of the Oklahoma Legislature, community organizations, and grassroots advocates. View full job description and apply online

Weekly What’s That

Voter ID Requirements

In 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which established new voter identification requirements. The state question requires voters to present a valid government-issued document that includes their name and picture or a voter identification card issued by their county election board. A person who cannot or does not provide one of those forms of identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot.

SQ 746 was approved with 74.3 percent of the vote and took effect in July 2011. After a lengthy legal challenge, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously upheld Oklahoma’s voter ID law in 2018.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“It’s 57 years later and we are still saying ‘We have a dream.’ Something is wrong.”

-Rapper and activist Jabee Williams speaking at an Oklahoma City march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Labor Day celebrations should focus on workers, public health

America has come a long way since Sept. 5, 1882, when union leaders in New York City organized what is considered now as the nation’s first Labor Day parade.

It took a tumultuous 12 years of labor struggles and strikes before Congress and President Grover Cleveland  declared the first Monday in September a national holiday honoring America’s workers. The move was meant to placate restless workers and a labor movement organized to improve working conditions. 

Workers united around the largely symbolic holiday, but it took more than four decades before they found real success with the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. The federal law set a minimum wage, a shorter work week and provided protections for children in the workplace. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal that helped the nation emerge from the Great Depression. The law — and the labor movement — also fostered the growth of middle-class America, raising the standard of living and providing workers with more leisure time.

Perhaps that leisure time is why Americans spend more time these days recreating on Labor Day weekends than celebrating its origins. But this might be the year to spend more time reflecting on the importance of Labor Day instead of congregating at the usual places. 

[Read full editorial at Muskogee Phoenix]

Numbers of the Day

  • 25 days – The voter registration deadline is 25 days prior to the date of an election.
  • 46th – Oklahoma’s national rank among voter participation rate (52.3 percent) during the last presidential election.
  • 21.2% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s voting-eligible population who participated in the March 3, 2020 presidential primary.
  • 14% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s total voter turnout who voted-by-mail in the June 30 election.
  • 62,552 – Number of justice-involved Oklahomans barred from participating in the 2018 federal elections.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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.

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