The Weekly Wonk: Reconsider the runoff; second-class citizens; encouraging signs for #okleg

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

This week Summer Intern Max West urged us to reconsider the runoff and pointed to possible solutions for improving our election system. Executive Director David Blatt’s weekly Journal Record column featured Still She Rises legal defense advocate D’Marria Monday and explored how people in Oklahoma with felony convictions are disenfranchised even after being released from prison. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis gave us hope with some encouraging signs from this year’s legislative candidates

Upcoming Opportunities

Runoff Elections: The runoff may be next week, but there are important dates this week as well. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is this Wednesday, August 22nd at 5 P.M.  Early voting starts the following day and runs through Saturday at your county election board. For a full list of early voting dates and other important voting information, visit our 2018 Oklahoma Elections and State Questions page. 

10th Anniversary Gala: We’re less than a month away from our 10th Anniversary Gala featuring The New Yorker magazine’s humorist and feature writer Ian Frazier. We hope you will join us in celebrating this milestone and in honoring former Speaker of the House Kris Steele and former state Superintendent Sandy Garrett with our Good Sense/Good Cents award on Thursday, September 13th. Individual tickets and sponsorships are available now. Get yours before Friday, September 7.

Weekly What’s That

Voter ID Requirements, What’s That?

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

“A lot of these are 20-, sometimes 30-year sentences on a crime that if charged now would be a misdemeanor.”

-Corbin Brewster, Tulsa County’s chief public defender, speaking about inmates sentenced before Oklahoma’s SQ 780 criminal justice reforms. Advocates are now fighting to have these sentences commuted [Tulsa World].

Editorial of the Week

DOC director: Oklahoma needs to invest in prison staffing

The solution is simple — better pay and working conditions to attract the caliber of staff required. Oklahoma’s correctional officers are the region’s lowest paid. Our job pool is the same one oil companies pull from for their greenhorns, and gas stations for their clerks. Those jobs often pay better and are less dangerous. Pay hamstrings recruitment for other positions, too. The DOC has one electrician and one plumber for the entire system. That’s a problem when our oldest prison was built in 1908, and only eight of 24 facilities were built as prisons. [NewsOK].

Numbers of the Day

  • -13.6% – Difference in the average hourly wage for Oklahoma workers ($23.16) compared to the national average ($26.19), June 2018
  • 2.9% – Share of Oklahoma’s state revenue that comes from “sin taxes” on alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, 2015.
  • 77.2% – Percentage of Oklahoma households with a broadband internet subscription, 9th lowest in the U.S.
  • 15.6% – Percentage of all Oklahoma businesses with paid employees that are minority-owned (2016).
  • 2.0% – Unemployment rate in Cimarron and Blaine Counties, May 2018, the lowest in Oklahoma.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • A disturbing trend of hiding the coverage losses is emerging in Medicaid waivers. [Georgetown University Center for Children and Families]
  • Fewer Americans are making more than their parents did—especially if they grew up in the middle class. [Brookings Institution]
  • Percentage of Oklahoma households with a broadband internet subscription, 9th lowest in the U.S. [The Guardian]
  • How Kentucky’s economic realities pose a challenge for work requirements. [Urban Institute]
  • The Republican push for welfare “work requirements,” cartoonsplained. [Vox]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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