Oklahoma Primary Runoff Elections in a Politically Charged Year
The Oklahoma Primary Runoff elections will be held in August. Voters will be able to vote within their district for statewide representatives. (Photo provided by Flickr.)
Oklahoma is set to have a Primary Runoff Election August 23, where voters will vote on the candidates left from the statewide primary from June 28; however, not every district will have a runoff election because not every district had a primary that resulted in unclear results.
There are runoffs in various statehouse districts and state Senate districts. In Congress there is the U.S. House District 5 congressional race which is mostly Oklahoma County, Potawatomi County and Seminole County.
Various state Senate and state representative races will also be in the runoffs, and there will be some county races in certain locations, such as the County Commissioner and the County Officer races.
The candidates on the ballot are on there because their numbers were too close in the primary election. The way it works in the Oklahoma elections is if a county has more than two candidates in a primary race, the top two will go on to the runoff election.
Bryan Dean, Public Information Officer for the State of Oklahoma Election Board, said, “Whoever the top two vote-getters were in the primary will go in the runoff ,and so you are voting on the top two candidates in the primary.”
The State Election Board has now certified all results from the primary election. Runoff primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.
— State Election Board (@OKelections) July 7, 2016
Just like in a regular primary election, the Republicans vote for the Republican candidate, and the Democrats vote for the Democratic candidate.
“It’s new this year that our system lets the parties decide whether or not they want to let Independents vote in their parties, and Democrats and Libertarians have decided to do that. There aren’t any Libertarian runoffs, but there are Democrat runoffs, so the Democrats can vote in the Democratic runoffs,” Dean said.
This is the first time either party has ever allowed Independent voters to do that.
The parties get to choose whether they want Independents to vote or not once every some odd years. Their deadline for that decision is in November of that year.
Independent voters do get more votes out there that wouldn’t be there without them, but Dean mentioned that the Independent turnout is already very low. He said this could be because they are not used to getting to vote in the primaries.
Because Independents are allowed to vote on does make it somewhat difficult to determine the amount of voter turnout at these elections. This is because it is difficult to tell who is voting for the Democratic party and who is voting for the Independent party.
Dean was able to see the amount of Republicans who turned out for the Primary Elections. That number ended up being 24.1% of voter turnout. Dean mentioned that was not uncommon in the Primary Election. It was easy to tell voter turn out here because there was a Republican candidate for each Primary.
“Runoffs tend to have lower turnout simply because there’s far less on the ballot,” Dean said. “Typically the high interest voters are the ones who show up to the runoffs.”
However, voters are still encouraged to get out and vote, so things have been made easier to encourage that as well.
Absentee ballots can now be filled out online, which was unveiled earlier this year. The Oklahoma State Election Board website gives the option for that.
There is also a voter tool option on the website that allows you to confirm your voter registration, find your polling place, view sample ballots and track your absentee ballot.
Voters who are also not wanting to wait in line anymore can now mail in their votes. All they have to do is sign up for an absentee ballot to be mailed and vote from home.
“We really are trying to emphasize voting by mail, because especially in November, we expect there to be a very high turnout, and that generally means you’re going to see lines, and people get frustrated when they have to wait in lines. The best way to skip the lines is to just vote by mail,” Dean said.
When you vote by mail, you do have to have someone notarize it before it can be mailed in.
One issue that the election board does seem to be running into right now is the need for poll workers. Dean mentioned that there are about 2,ooo precincts in the state, and each precinct needs three poll workers. Anyone interested in becoming a poll worker can talk to their county election board to find out more.
“They have training sessions they will put you through, and they will put you to work. We need all the help we can get with that. It’s up close: You can see how it works and be a good citizen,” Dean said.