Republicans, Independents surge in voter numbers, new election machines selected

by Patrick B. McGuigan

Published 01-Feb-2011

The Oklahoma state Election Board has released the latest online summary of voter registration data. While the two major political parties both gained in registration, Republicans had a decided advantage in the rate of increase.

Democrats continued to lose “market share,” but remain the state’s largest political party. Perhaps most notable, however, was the continuing rise in the number of registered Independents in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax circulated the updated data to news organizations, including CapitolBeatOK, last week, reflecting registration numbers through Jan. 15, 2011. Secretary Ziriax reported there were 2,090,130 registered voters on that date in Oklahoma:

§         Democrat: 999,943 – 47.8% (88 more than Jan. 15, 2010)
§         Republican: 849,332 – 40.6% (36,174 more than Jan. 15, 2010)
§         Independent: 240,855 – 11.5% (15,248 more than Jan. 15, 2010)

In an interview last year, providing a snapshot of the change over a period of three decades, Ziriax pointed out, “In 1980, Democrats were 75.8% of registered voters in Oklahoma, Republicans were 22.8%, and Independents were 1.4%.”

As the overview noted, “Ten years ago, in 2001, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 55% to 35.8%, and Independents were just more than 9% of registered voters.

For purposes of comparison, here are the registration numbers year-by-year since 1996, taken from the state Election Board’s website. In years where the numbers in this chart do not “add up” perfectly, it is due to the presence of Libertarian or Reform party memberships when they had formal party status.

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

For more information, view the official Voter Registration Reports here.

In other recent news from the Election Board, Ziriax announced last month selection of a vendor based in Austin, Texas to implement the state’s new voting system. Hart InterCivic, Inc., Ziriax said, “received the highest overall scores in the evaluation process and also provided the lowest cost. Hart’s bid presents the best value for the taxpayers, and we are very excited about working with Hart on this very important project.”

Officials intend to install the system in all 77 counties before the 2012 elections. In a release sent to CapitolBeatOK, Ziriax explained the state “will continue to use paper ballots and scanners with the new system, similar to the current statewide system that Oklahoma has used for nearly two decades.

“Oklahoma has the best voting system in the country, and we believe we’re about to get even better. Thanks to the upgrades in technology, we will be able to improve security, increase efficiency, and provide more accessibility for voters — all while maintaining the reliability and accuracy that have become the hallmark of elections in Oklahoma.”

According to the election board, Oklahoma’s Central Purchasing department “received five (5) responses to the State Election Board’s request for proposals for a new voting system. After the Phase 1 evaluation process, two of the vendors were chosen to participate in Phase 2 vendor presentations. After the evaluation of Phase 2 was completed, Hart InterCivic was requested to bring a best and final offer, which was determined to be the best value for the State of Oklahoma.”

The award amounts to as much as “$16,695,590.00 – which includes the initial costs associated with purchasing and installing the new voting system, as well as locking in future prices for spare parts, software license agreements, training, and optional products.”

According to Ziriax, “The new system will be paid for from funds received over the past several years by the State Election Board through federal Help America Vote Act grants.”