The landscape in Oklahoma
Protecting election workers isn’t a partisan issue. Oklahoma proved that in 2023 by making it a crime to harass election workers or publish their private information. The law was written by two Republican lawmakers, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, and signed by a Republican Governor.
At the same time, however, Oklahoma has made it more difficult for local election offices to carry out their work. It’s one of many states that have banned donations to support election funding, a trend that took off because of a conspiracy theory about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Oklahoma’s entire House delegation, five Representatives in all, voted to overturn 2020 election results. One of them was Markwayne Mullin, who is now a Senator, and who has claimed that federal charges against Donald Trump for trying to stop the peaceful transfer of power were politically motivated. Oklahoma’s other U.S. Senator, James Lankford, withstood a primary challenge in 2022 from a vocal Election Denier.
0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.
Elections are run by the states. The Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. In Oklahoma, unlike many other states, the Secretary of State is appointed by the state Senate. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.
Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections
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How Oklahoma compares
Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Oklahoma compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.
Election Denial in Southwest States
|Moreinformation about Arizona|
|Moreinformation about New Mexico|
|Moreinformation about Oklahoma|
|Moreinformation about Texas|
Sitting official is an Election Denier
- In Oklahoma, the Secretary of State is appointed by the state senate.
- In Texas, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is an Election Denier and appointed Jane Nelson in January 2023.
Voter turnout over time
Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Oklahoma elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.
Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.
Beyond the ballot box
Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.
One of these bills was enacted or adopted. That bill fell into the categories of creating unworkable burdens in election administration and imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.