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Low voter turnout feared in Tuesday's Oklahoma primary elections

Democrats have no statewide race to decide and Republicans have only one statewide contest to consider. An earlier election date also may catch voters unaware, political consultants and analysts say.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: June 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm •  Published: June 22, 2012
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Next week's primary election, scheduled a month earlier than normal, and the lack of statewide races will result in a low turnout of voters, political analysts and advisers agreed Thursday.

“It's going to be the weakest ever,” said Ben Odom, a longtime Democratic Party strategist and a former state Democratic Party official.

“There are isolated pockets throughout the state where there's a hot local race that will drive interest and drive turnout, but for large portions of the electorate, there is only maybe perhaps one race to vote on or maybe even none in the primary,” Odom said during a “Political Junkies” discussion in Oklahoma City, sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Political Communications Center. “It's a most interesting challenge for the candidates and for the consultants and everyone else to try to figure out who's actually going to bother to vote this time.”

The only statewide race is the Republican contest for corporation commissioner. Commissioner Bob Anthony was elected in 1988 to the state's three-member energy, transportation and utility regulatory panel. He is being challenged by Brooks Mitchell, a former director of administration for the commission. The victor will win a six-year term on the commission; no Democrat or independent filed for it.

“People are not engaged in this election,” said Neva Hill, political consultant who has mostly Republican clients. “The earlier primary date has been a big influence. It will be an election where the folks that do the best job of turning out their people are the ones that likely will be the winners on Tuesday.

“We've got a very unusual election cycle where we don't have any statewide races driving turnout,” she said.

Congressional races

Voter participation should be better in eastern Oklahoma where six Republicans and three Democrats are seeking the open 2nd Congressional District seat, Odom said. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, is not seeking re-election.

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at a glance

EARLY VOTING

Early voting is Friday, Saturday and Monday at county election boards. Voting times are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Monday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Registration

Voter registration for the June 26 primary election is closed, but registration is still open for those wishing to vote in the Aug. 28 runoff primary election and the Nov. 6 general election.

Election Day

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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