Independent Voters Only Voter Registration To Gain From 2015

voter_registrations_2016Every year, the Oklahoma Election board releases statistics on Oklahoma voters and which party to which they belong. Last year, we noted that Independent registrations had the largest rate of increase over the Democratic and Republican parties. This year, that trend has continued.

In fact, if you look at the change from 2015 to 2016, Independent registrations were the only group to have an increase while overall registrations fell. Looking at a two year change, Republicans also had an increase in registrations, yet it was a smaller increase than Independent registrations.

This year, the Democrats are at an all time low of 832,059, Republicans are at 880,130, and Independents have reached 266,605. Interestingly enough, Americans Elect, which is no longer a political party but a political organization, grew from 9 members in 2015 to 13 in 2016.

These trends show a change in political ideals in the Oklahoman voter. For years, voters have been identifying less and less with the Democratic and Republican parties and showing support for the inclusion of a third party in US politics. These voter registration statistics indicate that Oklahoma voters feel much the same way.

Republicans Out Number Democrats In Oklahoma, Independents Still Growing Fastest

Voter Registrations as of January 2015Yesterday, the Oklahoma Election Board released the official 2015 voter registration stats for Oklahoma. This new data shows that Republicans officially outnumber Democrats in the state.

As of January 15th, 2015, Republicans have 886,153 registered voters while Democrats have 882,866 voters, a difference of 3,467 voters. This continues the trend of more Oklahomans choosing to register as Republicans while fewer are sticking with the Democratic party.

However, what is not getting much exposure in the media is that Independent registrations are growing at a much faster rate than the Republican party. While Republicans have seen a 3.7% increase over last year’s registrations, Independents have seen a 9.44% increase. The 10 year increase is similarly stacked in favor of Independents, with 7.78% increase for Republicans and a 15.08% increase for Independents.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party has had a worse time as of late. They lost 0.33% registrations since last year and 19.77% registrations in the last 10 years.

While raw numbers still have Independents trailing far behind the duopoly parties, the fact that they are growing at a consistently  faster rate bodes well for Oklahoma politics. As Independent registrations grow, it will be harder and harder for the Legislature to ignore the needs and desires of Independent voters and the parties they wish to form.

Finally, if we average the rate of change over the last 20 years and project these numbers out to 2025, we see some major shifts. This assumes that nothing else changes in Oklahoma, just voter registrations. In this projection, by 2025 we will have a split of 33% Democrats, 46% Republicans and 21% Independents.

Total 2014 Voter Registrations Are Down From 2013

Total Voter Registrations from 1996 to 2014Every 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.

Voter Registration Numbers by Party From 1996 to 2014From 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.

As The State Purges Voter Rolls, Independent Registrations Surge

Every two years, the Oklahoma State Election Board purges the voter registration rolls of inactive voter registrations. This is nothing nefarious or new, it is just something they are required to do. If someone doesn’t vote for a couple of years and they don’t respond to a letter sent to the address on file, they are removed from the registration rolls. If there are duplicates, or if they get notice from an entity asking for a removal of an old record, those are removed. It is all part of keeping the best record of voters in the state.

However, this does mean that if someone has moved, but has not updated their voter registration, they may have been removed from the rolls after the notice was sent but did not reach them. So it would be wise to do some outreach over the next few months to make sure that everyone is registered if they want to be. This is important for a variety of reasons. Continue reading