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OKC mayoral candidates concentrate on efforts to get out the vote as election nears

Oklahoma City candidates Mick Cornett and Ed Shadid push efforts to get out the vote ahead of Tuesday’s mayoral election.
by William Crum Modified: February 28, 2014 at 11:37 pm •  Published: March 2, 2014

At Mayor Mick Cornett’s northside headquarters on May Avenue, a map covered with colorful Post-It notes identifies areas where the potential to boost turnout for Tuesday’s election is high.

At the “Edquarters” — Councilman Ed Shadid’s downtown campaign office — a sign on the back of the door reminds volunteers to sign up for their next shift before they leave.

With just a few days to go before votes are counted in Oklahoma City’s mayoral race, candidates were focused intently on engaging their voters and getting them to the polls.

Seeking to become Oklahoma City’s first four-term mayor, Cornett has worked hard to reach voters in an arc around the city’s suburban fringe, primarily from the north side, around the west into Canadian County to the south side.

That’s where research — represented by the Post-Its — tells a story of residents who vote in strong numbers in national elections but show much less interest in Oklahoma City’s municipal elections.

Shadid, the first-term councilman from Ward 2 who is challenging Cornett, has pursued a strategy reliant on volunteers to spread a message through city neighborhoods that a diverse array of residents should have a say in how the city is governed.

Republican State Sen. David Holt, Cornett’s campaign manager and his former chief of staff, said the campaign staff compared voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election to turnout in the city’s 2009 MAPS 3 election, when voters approved extending a 1-cent sales tax to finance civic improvements.

Studying select precincts, the staff found there’s a tendency among voters who live in suburban school districts to vote infrequently in Oklahoma City elections — despite the fact that they live in the city and rely on the city for utility services.

It’s important, Holt said, that those residents “understand fully that they live in Oklahoma City and can vote in this election.”

Holt offers the example of a precinct north of the Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma County, where he says turnout for the MAPS 3 election was 36 percent of the turnout in the 2012 presidential election. In a precinct in Heritage Hills, just north of downtown, he said the figure was 63 percent.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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