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Oklahoma election officials expect heavy turnout Tuesday

Presidential races attract voters, and even though Tuesday's ballot lacks any Oklahoma statewide race some congressional and legislative races may generate voter excitement.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: November 5, 2012

Oklahoma election officials are bracing for a heavy turnout of voters at the polls Tuesday.

“Every four years a presidential election is the election that has by far the heaviest turnout, and I think it will be the same this time,” state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “This will be the heaviest turnout we've seen in an election in Oklahoma since the 2008 election.

“Now whether it matches that turnout or exceeds it or comes short, I don't think we can know that yet,” he said.

Oklahomans in 2008 fell about 1,100 votes shy of breaking the state's record presidential vote that occurred in 2004. State voters cast 1,462,661 votes for president in 2008, or 1,097 fewer than in the 2004 presidential election when 1,463,758 Oklahomans voted.

About 67 percent of the registered voters turned out to cast ballots in the 2008 election.

The Republican presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, received 65.6 percent of the votes. President Barack Obama failed to win any of Oklahoma's 77 counties. Obama this year faces Republican Mitt Romney, who finished second in Oklahoma's presidential preferential primary.

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

No statewide races

This year's turnout could be lower because Oklahoma has no statewide races on the ballot.

Voters are being asked to decide six state questions and whether to retain several appellate court judges and Supreme Court justices.

But a heated race in the 2nd Congressional District is generating some excitement, along with a competitive battle in the 1st Congressional District, and some close legislative and county races.

The weather shouldn't be a deterrent — the forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of about 70 degrees.

“I think that we'll have a good turnout in Oklahoma, but I don't think we're going to have a record turnout,” said Ben Odom, a former state Democratic Party official. “We don't have a U.S. Senate race; we don't have a governor's race. We have two competitive congressional districts, both in eastern Oklahoma, but if you're west of the interstate (35) there's not a competitive congressional race either.”

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