Local races and issues may help draw voters to the polls Tuesday. A poor turnout is expected because of the lack of a statewide race in Tuesday's runoff primary election.
Only eight legislative races — five of which are in the Oklahoma City metro area — are on the ballot.
Turnout could be in the 10 to 15 percent range, political observers say.
“I think it will be a record low,” said Ben Odom, longtime Democratic Party strategist and a former state Democratic Party official. “There's no statewide runoff.”
“It's difficult unfortunately if they're going to the polls and they're only going to mark one box on the ballot,” said Neva Hill, a political consultant who has mostly Republican clients. “It really boils down to the real good voters.
“In some of these races there could be 10 percent turnout,” she said. “And you think about the impact because some of these folks don't have general elections.”
Better turnout is expected in eastern Oklahoma where lively campaigns have been waged by both the Democratic and Republican runoff election candidates seeking get their party's nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat. It's the only congressional race on the ballot.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Early voting continues Monday. Voters taking advantage of in-person absentee voting must cast ballots at the county election board from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
Election officials suggest voters contact their county election boards before voting to make sure an election is scheduled in their precinct. Runoff elections for federal, state or county offices will occur in 41 of the state's 77 counties, and 19 counties will have only local elections on the ballot.
State election officials don't make voter turnout predictions, but typically there's a drop-off of voters from the primary election to the runoff primary election, state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.
“It wouldn't surprise me if that were the case again,” he said. “It is possible in the 2nd Congressional District where you have 26 counties and you have spirited campaigns going on for the Republican nomination and the Democratic nomination perhaps you see a higher turnout than you would normally expect in a runoff in those areas.”
About 20 percent of the voters turned out for the June 26 primary election.
“Typically of the state elections that occur, the runoffs tend to be the lowest turnout of the big elections that occur that are run by the state,” Ziriax said.
Oklahoma is a closed primary state, meaning only registered Republicans may vote in GOP contests and Democratic elections are open only to Democrats.
Independents, Democrats and Republicans may vote on local issues.
During the June 26 Republican primary for Oklahoma County court clerk, more than 26,000 voters went to the polls. But there were 14 items on various ballots for Republicans depending on the precinct.
When Tim Rhodes and Charles Key meet in the runoff Tuesday, turnout could be much lower.
There will be one or two items per ballot, depending on the precinct. The big draw might actually be Del City voters getting out to have a say in a proposed 1.5 percent sales tax renewal.
Voters in Norman might have more say in who represents them for Senate District 15 than voters in unincorporated Cleveland County and Oklahoma County. Both candidates are from Norman, but the proposed $42.6 million bond issue in the city of Norman will likely attract voters to the polls.
In the June primary election, only 264 voters in Oklahoma County cast votes in the Senate race compared with nearly 4,300 voters in Cleveland County.