Oklahoma’s 2012 election cycle ranked near the bottom of the nation for voter turnout and voter registration, according to a study put out Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The study found Oklahoma ranked 49th for voter turnout and 46th for voter registration and lacked in online voter information tools.
“In 2012, Oklahoma provided just one of five possible online voter information lookup tools on its state elections website, making it one of only five states to provide one or none of these tools,” the study states. “Online lookup tools help voters access the information they need where they are most likely to look for it: online.”
Zachary Markovits, manager of Pew’s election initiatives, said adding those tools could help reverse Oklahoma’s declining voter turnout, which dropped from 81 percent in the 2008 study to 77 percent in 2012.
Paul Ziriax, secretary of the state Election Board, questioned the study’s numbers, saying the state’s data shows slightly higher voter turnout. He also said two of the five recommended online voting tools, online voter registration and a poll locator, are available together as one tool already. Two more of those tools, online sample ballots and tracking tools for absentee ballots, will be available for the 2014 election cycle.
Ziriax said one reason the percentage of Oklahoma voters likely to go to the polls is lower than the national average is political campaigns didn’t spend large amounts of money in the state.
“One thing that Oklahoma did not have in 2012 was a hot race or political candidates to turn out those registered voters,” Ziriax said. “If you look at so-called battleground states, the presidential and political campaigns paid millions of dollars to get people out to the polls. It’s not necessarily a fair comparison to compare Oklahoma, that didn’t see that level of investment by presidential or political campaigns, and compare us to battleground states.”
Online: For an interactive look at the study’s election data go to www.pewstates.org/epi-interactive.