In the days leading up to the registration deadline, there's been a stream of new voters in the Rogers County Election Board Office.
Before 11:30 Wednesday morning, Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody said they'd already had over 50 people come through to register.
There's been such an influx, she said, her office has decided to extend their hours on the deadline day.
"The deadline to register to vote to vote, to be eligible to vote in the June primary election is this Friday," Dermody said. "So, Friday, we will remain open until 10 p.m. just to have time for people to come in."
Dermody reported that in Rogers County, 1,349 people have registered to vote since January 1.
"And this is new registration," she explained. "Not people changing party affiliation."
Of the total new voters: 292 are democrat, 673 are republican, 18 are libertarian, and 366 are independent.
Though the numbers are rising daily.
She said her team has been trying their best to be proactive and that the folks in Rogers County are very politically active.
She and her staff and volunteers set up registration tables at any community event they can and are always looking for creative ways to promote voter registration.
She said Facebook’s “register here” link has contributed to the increase.
The reports are a few days behind, she said, but at last count Rogers County had a total of 47,540 registered voters.
Of that total, those registered as republican represent the majority with 26,853. There are approximately 14,184 registered democrats, 96 libertarian and 6,407 in dependent.
The influx is keeping with a state-wide trend.
Oklahoma new voter registration doubles from four years ago
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s voter registration rolls have ballooned ahead of next month’s primary election.
In all, the state Election Board reports nearly 45,200 new voters have registered since mid-January.
That’s more than double the number of new registrations during the same period four years ago, said Bryan Dean, a spokesman with the Election Board. Voters have until Friday to register to vote in the June 26 primary.
“I think there’s certainly a lot more enthusiasm and interest in state government right now than there has been in some time,” Dean said.
Voters will decide who should serve as their party’s nominee in the November general election. Voters will get to cast ballots for statewide and federal races, including the governor, as well as state House and Senate seats. Voters will also determine the fate of a movement to legalize medical marijuana.
The winners of the primary will appear on November’s general election ballot.
Of the state’s nearly 2.05 million registered voters, approximately 955,000 are now registered Republican, Dean said. About 774,300 are Democrats. Approximately 6,000 are Libertarians and about 310,400 are independents.
During the primary election, Republican and Libertarian voters are only allowed to cast ballots in their party’s election. However, all registered voters can decide on medical marijuana legalization, and Democrats currently permit independents to vote in their primary elections, Dean said.
In a statement, Anna Langthorn, Oklahoma Democratic Party chair, said voters are fed up with ineffective GOP leadership “and are ready to make a change at the ballot box.
“Oklahoma citizens are engaged this year, and we believe the increase in registrations is a referendum on the closed-door partisan politics everyone is tired of seeing at the Capitol," she said.
Chip Paul, chairman of Oklahomans for Health, which launched the medical marijuana ballot initiative, said he’s certain the push to legalize medical marijuana is driving interest ahead of the election.
“I think (it’s) two things,” he said. “I do think people are more (incentivized) to participate in the political process because this is on the ballot, and because we’re in a time of political change.”
Since January, he estimates more than 10,000 Oklahomans have registered to vote or updated their existing voter information at legalization events around the state.
“We expect to produce a very large turnout in June,” he said. “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t beat the general election numbers in the primary. There’s a bunch of people that would never ever vote in the primary that will be going to the polls this time.”
Early voting runs from June 21 through 23, Dean said. The deadline to request absentee ballots is June 20.
The primary election is June 26.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.