Early voter turnout increases across Oklahoma
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - State Election Board data shows more Oklahomans cast a ballot early this year than in the last midterm election.
More than 132,000 Oklahomans have already voted in the midterm election. That’s 25,000 more than in the 2018 midterm election.
One reason for the dramatic increase is that the Sooner state had a fourth day to vote early this year.
Justin Rose is a political scientist at Cameron University.
He said many people are realizing how convenient early voting is, especially following the pandemic.
“People are asking themselves ‘Why would I ever want to go back to in-person voting?’ Come home after an eight hour shift and they go stand in line for about another two hours and wait to cast a ballot,” Rose said. “Instead, let’s just sit around the dinner table, cast my ballot, put it in the mail, I’m done for.”
He said political parties are rallying voters, and entertainment that mixes comedy with politics has younger generations more interested in voting.
Social media might be playing a role in the increase, too.
“We see that maybe social media is causing more polarization,” Rose said. “If we’re seeing an increase in polarization, it makes sense that people want to turnout to vote more in midterms because traditionally, the only people that vote in midterms are those who are far to the left and far to the right. So we’re becoming more polarized. It makes sense that we’re seeing an increase in midterm voter turnout numbers.”
About 2900 people in Comanche County have already voted.
In Stephens County, around 1500 voters cast a ballot last week. That’s nearly 400 more than the amount of people who voted early in the county in 2018.
“They should voice their opinion so their voices can be heard,” said Secretary of the Stephens County Election Board Angela Dunagan. “Not everybody in the world has that opportunity to vote and we have that freedom, and we should exercise that freedom.”
Rose urges voters to research candidates before heading to the polls on Tuesday.
Rose: “Don’t just rely on the R by somebody’s name. Don’t just rely on the D by somebody’s name. Look at their policy decisions and look how they’re going to affect your life moving forward and maybe how they affected your lives in the four years prior and turn out to vote.”
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