Don't just take our word for it: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, former U.S. Congressman Mickey Edwards, OKC Mayor David Holt, and Open Primaries President John Opdycke sat down together with us on November 3 to explain how open primaries would give all Oklahomans the right to vote in our primary elections.
On November 3, OKC Mayor David Holt led an energizing and informative live discussion on statewide political discord and dysfunction, and how we can transform that dynamic with fully open primaries. Other panel experts included Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, former Oklahoma U.S. Congressman Mickey Edwards, and President John Opdycke of Open Primaries.
This room was full of people just like you who want to eliminate obstacles to good government, connect politicians and policies to real problems, and bring common sense and all voters into decisions. Hosts Valerie Naifeh and George Catechis and other business owners, community leaders, and concerned citizens around the state agree that Oklahoma deserves better. Our experts also agree that an open primary system in which all candidates must face all voters is the place to start.
Primaries are the most important part of our decision-making in the election process, and yet only a tiny fraction of Oklahomans vote in them. Our fast-increasing number of independent-registered voters (now over 431,000 and growing more than any party in OK) are opting out of the restrictive system they feel doesn't represent them. Many of these independent voters are young people: our children and grandchildren to whom we need and want to give a better future.
Open primaries are the first and most important thing we can do to bring voters off the sidelines, resulting in the freedom to vote for the candidate we like no matter where they come from, more choices for all voters, and better connections between public servants and the public.
Voting is a right, and too many Oklahomans don't have that right in our closed primary elections.
Join us so all eligible, registered Oklahoma voters are represented by the elected officials who make the laws in our state.
"In 2022, nearly 900,000 Oklahoma voters were shut out of voting in contested races, according to a national analysis by the Lee Enterprises Public Service Journalism team. About 58% (31 of 53) of those contested state and federal races were decided outright in primaries that were closed to all but party members ..."
“We want all voters to have the freedom to vote for the person they want. The person in their minds is the best person for the job, regardless of where they come from. And we want all independents to be able to vote equally as a party member. You shouldn't have to be forced to join a party in order to exercise your constitutional right to vote in elections that you're funding.”
- Margaret Kobos, OKUnited Founder & CEO
An Oklahoma group thinks so, arguing it could help increase voter participation. KOCO 5 heard from Oklahoma United for Progress and got a reaction from Oklahoma's Republican Party.
"Getting to a healthy economy, getting to healthy discourse and solutions in our state, in my opinion, and lots of other people’s opinions, means that you have to get your ideas from everywhere," said Margaret Kobos with Oklahoma United for Progress ..."
As a Republican member of Tulsa’s city council, G.T. Bynum rather forcefully opposed a proposal to make municipal elections in Oklahoma’s second-largest city nonpartisan. But voters were in favor of the plan and the change was made.
Now in his second term as Tulsa’s mayor, Bynum has completely altered his viewpoint.
He's now a fan of nonpartisan elections and their cousin, open primaries, saying they lead to more effective government by reducing the potential for partisanship in office.
Bynum joined three other prominent Republicans, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards and Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn at a recent fundraiser for a group called Oklahoma United for Progress that is seeking to promote the idea of some sort of open-primary system for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is at the bottom of too many national metrics:
The problems we have in Oklahoma are not partisan. Neither are the solutions.
"It feels to us, that for an independent voter to be funding an election but not able to vote in it, it's just wrong. I’m a registered Republican and I still think that’s wrong. We have a bipartisan support element from all of our contributors and supporters."
- Margaret Kobos, Founder & CEO, OKUnited
It was standing room only at The Press in Oklahoma City, where everyone enjoyed burgers, beers, and a robust discussion about how opening the primaries could help solve the chaos, and division in Oklahoma politics. The energy in the room was electrifying, and we're looking forward to hosting many more evenings like this around the state. Our guests were from different political persuasions, but everyone agreed that repealing closed primaries is the right thing to do for the future of our state.
Oklahoma is dead last in eligible voter participation.
We've heard from thousands of Oklahomans, and they want change!
Check it out! Watch the highlights from the UnmuteOK campaign launch. Do you want to see us in person? Can you volunteer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us where and when we can meet you in the middle.