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’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Communications Intern Lilly Strom.
This Week from OK Policy
Policy Matters: The voters have spoken, but issues remain: While it may be days or weeks before the presidential race is resolved, we have complete results from Oklahoma’s races on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Notably, voters did not approve the two state questions on the ballot – criminal justice reform with State Question 805 and health care funding for State Question 814. While voters have spoken on these particular ballot measures, the issues that sparked these state questions remain unresolved. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]
Weekly What’s That
Oklahoma Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is one of Oklahoma’s three appellate courts, along with the Court of Civil Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals. An appellate court hears appeals from lower court decisions.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court was established under Article VII of the state Constitution. Originally, the Oklahoma Supreme Court had five justices, but four more were added in 1917 to accommodate a growing caseload. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all civil matters from lower courts such as district courts, the Court of Tax Review, and over conflicts arising amongst state agencies. The Supreme Court further assesses the legality of actions taken by the legislative and executive branches.
The qualifications for appointment include being at least 30 years of age, experience as an attorney or judge for at least five years prior to appointment, and voter registration in their represented district for at least one year. In the event of a vacancy, eligible candidates may submit their names to the Judicial Nominating Commission for review. The Judicial Nominating Commission then sends the names of three candidates to the Governor, who appoints the new justice. Justices are up for a retention election after their first year, and then every six years following. These elections are nonpartisan and prohibit any campaign fundraising. Oklahoma is one of 39 states where voters play a role in selecting judicial positions. No justice has ever lost a retention election.
Quote of the Week
“We got in line (four hours ago). They should have had a special line for disabled people and they could have set this up better — Chick-Fil-A is easier to get through than this.”
-Noble resident Mary Beth Davis. She arrived at her Noble polling place at 9:30 a.m. and was still in line at 1:30 p.m. [Norman Transcript]
Editorial of the Week
Accept election results and work to help country
As of the time this editorial was written, we didn’t know who won the presidential election, and we may not know for some time.
What we do know is, regardless of the result, our country wins every time we vote because we are allowed to cast ballots in free and open elections.
With that in mind, we hope everyone — from the candidates on down — will accept the results. No, we don’t expect everyone to be happy, but we do hope cooler heads prevail and we don’t see any outbreaks of violence because of the results.
We live in contentious times politically, and the situation seems to have been exacerbated this year for several reasons, not the least of which has been the disruption of our daily lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen businesses shuttered, schools closed, millions lose their jobs across the country. Tensions have been high as a result, and it’s shown during this presidential election cycle.
We’ve been through volatile times politically throughout our country’s history, but one thing has been constant. We’ve always made it through the tough times.
This election will be no different. Our country is strong, but we sometimes seem to be our own worst enemy. What used to be just partisan politics has been taken to a new level. The hatred we see now from candidates, from people on social media and in our streets, can’t continue.
Once we know the outcome, we need to set aside the hatred. We must come together again as Americans and work for the common good of our country.
Numbers of the Day
- 164,461 – A record number of Oklahomans voted early in person during the 2.5-day window for in-person absentee voting that ended Saturday. This surpassed the previous statewide record of 153,000 who cast in-person, early ballots in the 2016 general election.
- 169,006 – Net change of Oklahoma voters since Jan. 15, 2020. (As of Nov. 1, 2020, Republicans represent 50.01% of registered Oklahoma voters, while Democrats are 33.23%, Independents are 16.10%, and Libertarians are 0.66%.)
- 1,558,627 – Number of Oklahomans who cast ballots both absentee and in-person in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
- 39 & 9 – The number of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in the Oklahoma State Senate following Tuesday’s general election.
- 82 & 19 – The number of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives following Tuesday’s general election.
What We’re Reading
- Voting Outside the Polling Place: Absentee, All-Mail and other Voting at Home Options [National Conference of State Legislatures]
- Is it safe to vote in person? Experts say yes — with a few conditions [Vox]
- How many votes will be counted after election night? [MIT]
- Political sectarianism in America [Journalist’s Resource]
- America’s electoral future: The coming generational transformation [Brookings Institute]