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
Managed care will be bad for patients and providers: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is currently accepting proposals from corporations, in an effort to privatize Medicaid and outsource the services that OHCA has successfully provided for decades. Managed care has already failed in Oklahoma, with no evidence to suggest the market has changed since the last attempt. This transition would not only be a significant financial risk for the state, but would likely harm both patients and providers. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]
Choose healthy news over junk: From an early age, we try to teach children the importance of eating nutritious, balanced meals so they mature to be strong and healthy adults. We warn that if they choose to gorge themselves on junk food filled with sugar and empty calories, they will instead become sick and feel miserable. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat!” The same is true when it comes to news consumption. It is vitally important that consumers be able to distinguish substantive “healthy news” produced by legitimate journalists from sugary “junk news” spread by partisan or self-interested organizations. [Jeff Berrong / OK Policy Board Member]
Extending teleconference meeting law requires special session (Capitol Update): I would not be surprised to see a special session of the Legislature sometime after the election for the purpose of amending the Open Meetings Act. Prior to last session, the act required a quorum of all public bodies to be present in person in public meetings in order to conduct business. However, before leaving the Capitol last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature amended the act to permit pubic bodies to conduct meetings by teleconference or videoconference, after proper notices, if each member of the public body is audible or visible to each other and to the public. That act expires Nov. 15. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
Policy Matters: Voting hits close to home: With so much attention placed on the presidential election these days, it is worth remembering that our state and local races are the ones that most deeply impact our day-to-day lives. In my family, voting was never a matter of ideology. Rather, it was about representation. It was about community. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]
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.
Quote of the Week
“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]
Editorial of the Week
Get out, vote — make sure ballots get counted
Our nation’s future will be decided by voters who are turning out in record numbers this year across the United States.
Voters are casting ballots by mail, voting early, and planning to go to their precincts on Tuesday to choose those who will represent them in a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Turnout so far has been impressive, with tallies for early voting in some states surpassing overall totals recorded in the 2016 general election.
Those high numbers reflect the enthusiasm among voters who seem to understand more than ever what it means to be involved in a participatory government. Voter apathy dictated the outcome of too many elections for years, but the pendulum seems to have swung the other way — high voter participation is an important element for a healthy representative democracy…
Numbers of the Day
- 50,200 – The number of Oklahomans who participated on the first day of early voting by 5 p.m. on Thursday.
- 45.5% – Share of Oklahoma counties (35 of 77) where at least half of residents lack broadband internet access.
- 15,638 – Adults and children in Oklahoma who receive assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which is a time-limited cash assistance to low-income families with minor children who are deprived of parental support because of the absence, death, incapacity, or unemployment of at least one parent.
- 62,500 – Estimated number of Oklahomans who are disenfranchised from voting due to a felony conviction.
- 54.9 – The three-year rolling average rate of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for Black women. This rate is more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for white women at 20.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
What We’re Reading
- 5 Things You May Not Know About Local Election Officials [Brennan Center for Justice]
- Digital Equity for Students and Educators [National Education Association]
- Family Cash Assistance Programs Marked by Historical Racism, Especially in South [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
- 62,500Most people in jail can vote. Many of them don’t know it. [The Marshall Project]
- Opportunities to Improve Health Equity for Mothers, Babies and Children [National Institute for Children’s Health Quality]