Every year on January 15th, the Oklahoma Election Board releases the voter registration data for Oklahoma. This is a county by county break down of the those registered by party. This year’s registration numbers (PDF) are very interesting. This year, Oklahoma has 1,978,812 people registered to vote in the state. This is 137,374 fewer registrations than it did in 2013.
This change in total voter registrations is primarily due to the voter purging that happened last year. The state purged 145,294 inactive voters from the rolls and we have seen less than 8,000 increase from then. This total number of registrations is the lowest the state has seen since 2004 in the lead up to George W. Bush’s election to his second term.
However, if we look at the data, we can see that election years always start off with fewer than expected numbers and then close out with a small spike. That spike is higher after Presidential elections, but still there for Governor elections. So this means that based on previous Governor elections, we will see a roughly 60,000 voter increase in 2015. That is, unless this election turns out to be more interesting than usual.
Even more interesting than the total registrations is the registrations by party. Here, there are a few interesting things to look at.
From the data available, the only party to actually gain numbers from the previous year is the Americans Elect party. Technically, it is a “political organization” and not a party, but people can still register as members of it. In 2013, it had only 1 registered member and this year it has 4. While that is nothing compared to the two major parties and Independents, it is still interesting to see that people are interested in registering under its name.
We can also see from these numbers, the gap between Democratic and Republican registrations has shrunk considerably. There is currently only a gap of 31,280 voters. Last year, that gap was 64,409. If that keeps up, registrations for the Republican party could surpass that of the Democratic party next year.
Despite the small drop in party registrations this year, the upward trend of Republican and Independent voters is still in effect. The Republican party has gained 26,072 voters since 2012 and Independents increased by 9,800 voters in the same time frame. If we have similar voter registrations this year as we did in late 2012, those numbers could increase by 69,406 and 27,380 respectively. If we instead base the projections off the 2010 Governor election we will see increases of roughly 36,174 and 15,248 respectively.
The future of the Democratic Party in Oklahoma looks considerably bleaker. Since 2012, Democratic registrations have dropped by 57,674 voters. That number only grew by 18,789 in 2013. There was virtually no change in registration numbers before and after the 2010 Governor election. If that trend, and the trend in Republican registrations shown above hold true for this year, then we will certainly see Republican registrations surpassing Democratic registrations the coming year.
Overall, Oklahoma is going to continue to increase in voter registration rates. It will be interesting to see how these registration numbers affect the coming election. We would certainly love to see a much larger spike in Independent voter registrations this year. We feel strongly that such a surge in Independents would help strengthen the position that we need serious ballot access reform in this state. We would also like to see a much larger number of Independents running for office this year as well. We will keep watching.