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Oklahoma Republicans net biggest gains from voter registration changes

Washington notes for April 26, 2014
by Chris Casteel Modified: April 25, 2014 at 9:22 pm •  Published: April 25, 2014

— More than 4,000 Democrats and independents in Oklahoma switched their registrations to Republican from mid-January to mid-April, according to the state Election Board. Far fewer voters switched to the Democratic Party or to independent status.

According to the state election board:

•3,634 people switched from Democrat to Republican;

•515 switched from independent to Republican;

•321 switched from Republican to Democrat;

•243 switched from independent to Democrat;

•326 switched from Democrat to independent; and

•342 switched from Republican to independent.

The registration changes represent a small fraction of the total voters in Oklahoma.

On April 14, there were 882,624 Democrats, 861,377 Republicans and 242,205 independents.

And those voters — particularly young ones — have a chance this year to improve upon the state’s very low ranking in a new U.S. Census Bureau report on youth voting in 2012.

According to the report, only 27 percent of Oklahoma voters between the ages 18 and 29 voted in 2012. That’s well below the national average of 45 percent; only West Virginia had a lower rate.

For adults 30 and older, the rate for Oklahoma was 59.9 percent, above only Arkansas and West Virginia.

According to the Census Bureau, the study estimated the number of people who registered to vote and who voted based on direct interviews with household respondents.

Shannon’s tribe

In the first two months of his campaign for the U.S. Senate, state Rep. T.W. Shannon collected donations from some American Indian tribes in Oklahoma and other states. The Choctaw Nation contributed $2,000; the Comanches gave him $2,600; the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California donated $2,600; and there were a few others.

There was one tribe conspicuously absent on the campaign finance report filed with the U.S. Senate this month: the Chickasaw Nation.

Shannon, of Lawton, is a Chickasaw, and his tribal affiliation has been a major part of his personal and political profile.

The tribe has been generous with candidates, political parties and political action committees. In 2012, for instance, the tribe gave $25,000 to a group called Texas Conservatives Fund, a so-called super PAC running ads to defeat Republican Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate primary.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said in a statement to The Oklahoman last month that the tribe fully supports Shannon and believes he would be an exceptional senator.

Anoatubby donated $1,000 to Shannon’s cause, as did some other Chickasaw leaders and tribal employees.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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