LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Super Tuesday is less than a week away, and voters in Oklahoma will join millions in 11 other states to help decide which presidential candidates will advance to the November election.
The popular vote in each party's primary helps determine how many delegates the candidate gets, and those delegates will select the party's nominee at their national conventions. On Super Tuesday, more than 50 percent of the Republican delegates will actually be allocated, so that race will truly take shape then.
In speaking with officials from both parties and a political science professor, there are many things that make this election unusual, including the number of Republican candidates that remain, social media's influence and the possibility of a brokered Republican convention if no one candidate gets the majority of delegates.
Cameron University assistant professor of political science Dr. Wendy Whitman Cobb says when it comes to casting your ballot, it's best to form your own opinion, especially in the age of social media.
"We tend to fall for whatever is on our Facebook posts without trying to understand where it came from. I mean, often times we all have that friend on Facebook who posts something that is really ridiculous and you're going 'is that true or not?' Some people fall for it," Dr. Whitman Cobb said.
Comanche County Republican Party chairman Ed Petersen says the fact that there are still five republican candidates with no clear front runner could mean that we may not know who will get the Republican Party's nomination until they go to their national convention.
"There's a lot of discussion about a brokered convention, and that means that if the delegates who are committed to a particular candidate, there is no clear winner. You know with a clear majority after that first vote they're released, and now you have a lot of behind the scenes horse trading with regard to those delegates," Peterson said.
Comanche County Democratic Party chairman Charles Kolker says having only two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders make the Demoratic primary decision clearer in voters' minds.
"Instead of having to pick through a herd, we have two outstanding candidates that we can listen to and the debates have been very much devoted to the issues rather than calling each other liars," Kolker said.
Whitman Cobb says because the primary gives voters a say in who their party chooses, it can be just as important as the general election.
"Whoever wins the primary might set up a different type of general election. So, you know, if you have a Trump-Sanders election, that is going to be very different then a Rubio-Clinton election, so this actually shapes what we will see in the months to come," Whitman Cobb said.
For Independent voters registered in Oklahoma, this will be the first presidential primary where they are able to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, but Independents cannot vote in the Republican primary.
Early voting starts Thursday and will run through Saturday, Feb. 27, at each county's election board office. On Thursday and Friday, voting hours are from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
On Saturday, hours are from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
To learn more about the Presidential Preferential Primary and for a link to find your polling place, click here.