TULSA, Okla. (Studio Blue at Public Radio Tulsa) — Question: How do closed primaries weaken our democracy? Answer: They produce elected officials who are more accountable to their party than their constituents, they restrict participation while also reinforcing division, and they exclude independent voters (who are the largest, fastest-growing sector of the US electorate).
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Sunday Morning Magazine with Martha Steele) — This week we have an extended conversation with representatives from two different organizations.
Margaret Kobos, founder and CEO of Oklahoma United for Progress
and Julie Knutson, CEO of The Oklahoma Academy and John Harper, board member of The Oklahoma Academy
TULSA, Okla. (Tulsa World) —
It’s bad for Oklahoma that nearly 70% of the legislative races have already been decided. Several reasons have led to this lopsided representation, and most are solvable.
The state had the 10th lowest voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election and the nation’s lowest in the 2020 election.
Studies show that legislators running unopposed are less engaged with their constituents. Also, citizens are more likely to become alienated from processes that don’t provide choices.
Oklahoma’s closed primaries shuts out hundreds of thousands of voters, and straight-party voting gives power to political parties over candidates.
TULSA, Okla. (News on 6) — Oklahoma is a closed primary state. That means in order to vote in a Republican runoff election, you must be a registered Republican.
One group is hoping to change that in an effort to get more voters to the polls.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (The Oklahoman) — Margaret Kobos, founder of Oklahoma United for Progress, began the UnmuteOK campaign in an effort to promote potential legislation for an open primary system. To gain momentum, Kobos is trying to receive at least 5,000 signatures on an informal petition for future lobbying.
“You don't take tax money from a person and then exclude them from the public benefit — and that’s what we see happening with closed primaries,” Kobos said.
Tulsa, Okla. (Tulsa World) — With the primary election on Tuesday, it’s become clear Oklahoma’s mostly closed system produces more extreme candidates, particularly among the dominant Republican Party. Conservative candidates seek to out-conservative each other to the fringes to win the taxpayer-funded primary. This edges out candidates interested in more broad-based governing, prevents honest political discourse and focuses on divisive cultural issues. This system puts power in parties, not people. We are encouraged by the efforts of Unmute Oklahoma, which has an online petition to build support for changing the state primaries.
Tulsa, Okla. (KOTV) — The Oklahoma primary election is coming up on June 28th, and one organization is fighting for open primaries. Currently, Oklahoma has closed primaries, meaning people can only vote within their registered party. Those registered as "Independent" can only vote if one of the parties allows it. "Unmute Oklahoma" has created a petition to repeal closed primaries in Oklahoma. Click Here for more information or to sign the petition.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KOKH) — Did Oklahoma have the lowest eligible voter participation of any state in the November 2020 general election? That's what the group Oklahoma United for Progress is saying. But is it true? It turns out — according to data from the Pew Research Center — that the organization's claim is correct.
TULSA, Okla. (Public Radio Tulsa) — Did you know that Democratic primaries in Oklahoma allow Independent voters to participate, but Republican primaries DON'T allow Independents to do so? And did you know that only about 55% of eligible voters in Oklahoma actually voted in the November 2020 election...and that this is the lowest voter-participation percentage nationwide? Our conversation on ST is about how to get more voters voting in the Sooner State, and our guest is Margaret Kobos, the founder of Oklahoma United for Progress. This organization is today (Thursday the 16th; here in Tulsa) launching a statewide campaign -- "a sort of road show," as Kobos puts it -- aimed at both generating awareness and gathering petition signatures in order to repeal closed primaries in Oklahoma. You can learn more about this campaign, and can sign the online petition, at unmuteok.org.
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — "We want to improve voter participation in Oklahoma," said Margaret Kobos of Oklahoma United for Progress. When she saw the data on voter turnout in Oklahoma, she was not happy. "When we saw that Oklahoma is last in eligible voter participation every single cycle in the country, always last," she said. So to try to change that she's about to launch a campaign to open up primaries to Independents.
TULSA, Okla. (Tulsa World) --
We’re electing politicians with no incentive to govern. Our general election races are increasingly uncompetitive, and voters have no interest in meaningless elections. The real decisions are made in primary contests. In Oklahoma’s closed primary system, only the most partisan voters participate. To these voters, and these voters alone, our resulting politicians believe they’re accountable.
This closed loop produces a revolving door through which politicians are elected and re-elected by placating the most partisan voters, at the expense of the rest of us.
As a result of our closed system, Oklahoma has earned the honor of having the worst eligible voter turnout in the entire U.S. nearly every one of the last 20 years.
WE DID IT!
THANK YOU, VOTERS
1. Proposition 1 is $166 million and includes more fencing, security cameras, roofing improvements, and maintenance repairs district wide.
2. Proposition 2 is $90 million to upgrade the district's computer software and add interactive white boards to classrooms.
3. Proposition 3 is more than $17 million to replace and repair buses and ensure transportation for students in off-site programs.
4. Proposition 4 is $139 million and focuses on STEM education, buying additional textbooks and upgrading STEM labs. There will be a public oversight committee.
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Oklahoma United for Progress supports public schools.
No Hall Pass on this one.
--Your Friends at OKUnited