More OK Voters Registering, Going Republican In 2016

Saturday, February 27th 2016, 6:22 pm
By: Grant Hermes

Oklahoma is expected to have right leaning turnout on Super Tuesday after a massive increase in new voter registration and an unusual amount of party affiliation switches, according to the state board of elections’ new numbers.

It's expected to be a red-letter year for Oklahoma voting. According to the state board of elections, more than 30,000 new voters have registered for the Oklahoma primary since January 15.

More than 43,000 early ballots were cast as of 11 a.m. Saturday. The amount nearly doubled the total amount in the 2012 election. Elections board secretary Paul Ziriax said they’re expecting the final count to rival 2008 numbers, which had a much higher voter turn-out.

“The turnout that we will see on Tuesday pales in comparison to the turnout we'll see in November for the presidential election,” he said.

He added the board has also seen a spike in new Republican voters, which isn’t entirely unexpected. Oklahoma is a solid red state having not elected a Democratic president since voting for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

But it's how the Grand Old Party is getting a boost that has some scratching their heads.

“About 8,300 people have executed some sort of party change,” Ziriax said. “It's a lot of voters.”

According to data from the board, nearly 1,000 independent voters got off the fence to the right and 2,800 Democrats traded in their party. Ziriax said the board doesn’t track demographics of party switches, only the raw amount.

Some analysts call the increase in voters the Trump effect. His campaign has brought in hundreds of supporters who say the GOP no longer represents them. Others call it the outsider effect with both Trump and Sanders influencing new voters to turn out to vote.

When asked if the board knew why voters were changing parties, Ziriax said he didn’t know, but did add he was confident the board would be able to handle the increased turnout.