As Oklahoma’s June 26 primary nears, GOP and Independents surge, Democrats’ registration advantage continues to erode

The steady decline of strength for Oklahoma’s Democratic Party, and comparative strength for Republicans and Independents, continues as the 2012 election campaign unfolds. Paul Ziriax, secretary of the Oklahoma state Election Board, reported the latest data, accurate through June 1 (and including the raw number of voters eligible to vote in the Tuesday, June 26 primary).  

In related news, Ziriax encouraged all voters to take time to discern whether or not they face primary or other choices where they are eligible to cast ballots. In a stark sign of Oklahoma’s steady political transformation since the 1980s, this year’s only statewide primary will be conducted in the Republican party. 

Ziriax’s staff has unveiled new data for the Sooner State’s 2,030,073 registered voters. In all 46.45 percent of voters are Democrats, 46.45 percent of the total. Republican strength is now nearly 42 percent of the electorate – 851,759 voters, or 41.96 percent of the total. Independents are 11.59 percent of voters, a total of 235,321. 
After purging of electoral lists, the number of voters is slightly smaller than the 2,090,130 who were registered in January 2011, and lower still than the 2,183,996 who were registered in 2009 (just months after the 2008 presidential election). However, the 2,030,073 voters as of June 1, 2012 is an increase of more than 29,000 since January 15, 2012.

In a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK, Ziriax commented, “The latest voter registration statistics from the Oklahoma State Election Board reflect a continuing trend that has seen a steady growth in the percentage of Oklahoma voters who are registered Republicans and Independents.”

The current raw number of Democrats is a net decrease of 296 voters since January 15, while Republican ranks have grown 23,502 since then. Independents have grown by 6,251 since January. 

The newest political party – Americans Elect – now has only six registered voters.  

Here are the updated voter registration numbers, adapting a chart prepared (based on Election Board data) in 2011:

 Year              Democrat                Republican        Independent      Total 

1996             1,112,560                 624,240             86,948            1,823,748

1997             1,171,620                 693,076            122,139           1,986,982

1998             1,158,754                  691,942            139,626           1,990,591

1999             1,183,523                  718,534            157,760           2,059,817

2000             1,189,332                 734,382           174,649           2,098,750

2001             1,233,481                 803,908           202,266           2,240,681

2002             1,079,298                 729,393          199,164            2,008,036

2003             1,099,458                 758,275           214,887            2,072,935

2004             1,022,442                 720,121           195,334            1,938,377

2005             1,100,263                 822,131            227,163           2,149,557

2006             1,021,053                 778,405           209,515            2,008,973 

2007             1,045,490                 805,607           224,464           2,075,561     

2008             1,012,594                 790,713           219,230            2,022,537

2009             1,077,616                 860,378          246,002            2,183,996

2010 (Jan.)       999,855               813,158          225,607             2,038,620

2010 (Sept.)     998,139                831,706         233,768            2,063,613

2011 (Jan.)      999,943                849,332         240,855            2,090,130

2012 (June)     942,987                851,759          235,321            2,030,073* 

* Six voters are now registered members of Americans Elect, a new party

Just ten years ago, 53.7 percent of Oklahoma’s registered voters were Democrats, while Republicans were 36.3 percent and Independents amount to 10 percent. A notable tipping point came early in 2010, when the number of registered Democrats dropped below 1 million for the first time in modern state history. 

Voter registration reports can be viewed at the Election Board’s website

Although registration for the June 26 primary has passed, new voters can register for the August 28 runoff primary and November 6 election.

Today (Wednesday, June 13), Ziriax issued a new statement encouraging voters to check on precinct assignments and polling locations. Although several special elections have been held since 2010, for the vast majority of voters the upcoming primary, runoff and general elections will be the first ones conducted within new House, Senate and other local districts.   

Ziriax said, “Following the redistricting process of 2011, many voters had to be assigned to different polling places. For voters who have not voted yet in 2012, we encourage them to confirm their precinct assignment and polling place.” 

On the state Board’s website there is a polling place locator. Voters can also contact their county election board.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a Census every ten years. That process leads to redistricting of lines for seats in Congress, the Legislature and various local offices, to assure populations within districts are equal, or nearly so. Ziriax observed, “Voters are notified by their county election board with a new voter identification card when they are assigned to a new precinct due to redistricting – but experience shows that some voters disregard the notice or move without notifying the election board and never receive the notice.”

This year’s only statewide non-presidential primary is in the Republican party, for the Corporation Commission (a six-year position now held by Bob Anthony). The GOP also has primaries in the Second, Third and Fourth congressional districts; Democrats have primaries in the Second, Third and Fourth congressional districts. Both parties have many primaries for legislative and county positions. 

Although Oklahoma has a closed primary system (meaning only registered members of a particular party can vote in primaries) a range of upcoming elections (including the general in November) are open to all voters. Ziriax commented, “Some local entities have non-partisan elections or questions on the ballot. All voters, including independents, are eligible to vote in these elections.”

He urged Democrats and Independents who are unsure whether they have a primary election in their precinct to contact county election boards. County election board information can be accessed here.

Ziriax concluded:

“Because of the statewide Primary for Corporation Commission, Republicans have a race in every county and every precinct. Most Democrats in the state will have races in their precinct – but not all, because there isn’t a statewide Democratic Primary. Independents can vote for non-partisan races or questions on the ballot in their precinct.”