Oklahoma Watch reporters are canvasing voting precincts on Election Day in Oklahoma:
Here are their reports and others shared on social media by other state outlets. (This article will be updated)
Long Waits Define Election Day in Noble
Oklahoma Watch reporter Whitney Bryen went to Noble, where lines and long waits have defined Election Day. Here’s her update:
The polls closed at 7 p.m. but voters in Noble were still lined up out the door and down the driveway at the Noble Senior Citizens Center. Voters said the wait is about an hour and a half or two hours. As long as they were in line before 7 they’ll get to vote.
A poll worker just told me the wait maxed out at 5 hours and 12 minutes earlier today. She said the unusual wait time is due to heightened voter turnout. She remembers the 2016 presidential election brought 735 voters to the site. There were well over 1,000 today.
Noble poll workers tell me they had only four voting booths set up when polls opened this morning, which is why the wait was so long. Around 2 p.m. they were able to move to a larger room at the center where they expanded to 11 voting booths cutting wait times in half.
Voting At This Precinct Is In His Blood
Here is an update on a voter with thoughts about State Question 805, via Oklahoma Watch’s Supriya Sridhar at Church of the Redeemer:
Video: Wallace Johnson, 71, (below) has voted at the church since he registered to vote in 1971. His mom was in charge of the precinct for 20 to 30 years. Johnson, who is retired, said that America has changed a lot since 2016 with Black Lives Matter and COVID-19.
What Turned Her Into a First-Time Voter
An update from Oklahoma Watch‘s Supriya Sridhar from the northeast Oklahoma City precinct voting at Church of the Redeemer:
Video: Mayra Rodriguez, 34, (below) placed her voter sticker on her mask. Rodriguez, a stay-at-home mother, is a first-time voter. In the past, she didn’t believe that her single vote mattered. This year, due to issues surrounding equality, Rodriguez decided to come out and vote.
An Independent Voter For Change
Oklahoma Watch‘s Whitney Bryen found an independent voter in Oklahoma County’s most purple voting precinct, at Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, 5808 NW 23rd St.
Video: Her conversation with Latoya Colbert (below):
‘The Undertone’ of Making America Great Again
An update from Oklahoma Watch’s Supriya Sridhar from Church of the Redeemer in northeast Oklahoma City:
Video: Michael Henderson (below) said his life was great four years ago, but now he is worried about paying bills. He said he is concerned about jobs and civil unrest caused by the president.
“When he says make America great again the undertone is he said make America white again,” Henderson said.
Is This The Longest Line in Oklahoma?
Reese Gorman of the Norman Transcript has been reporting on the long lines at the Noble Senior Citizens Center. He has been moving around Cleveland County for on-site reporting, but the five-hour wait in Noble is the longest we have heard of in Oklahoma today.
Gorman reports the Noble center has only four booths. “Also, also some poll workers are not wearing masks in this tight space and many voters aren’t wearing masks.” Follow Gorman on Twitter here.
‘Glad It Will Be Over’
I enjoyed talking with James Gehling at the most purple precinct in Oklahoma County today. He’s a Republican who voted for Trump in 2016 and today. Trump’s policies are great, he said, even though his ability to communicate isn’t.
“Whatever happens today, I’m just glad it will be over,” he said.
No Wait In This Precinct
Voices from Northeast Oklahoma City
An update from Oklahoma Watch’s Supriya Sridhar:
Video: Gary Viney (below) said he has always voted as a Democrat. Viney said that due to long early voting lines at the Oklahoma County Election Board last week during early voting, he decided to come vote in his neighborhood today at Church of the Redeemer on North Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Video: Allen Silas (below) said that he is voting to get Trump out of office. Silas said that since Trump’s presidency began, he has seen more overt racism. Silas said that he is voting for Biden, and hopes that having U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as vice president creates change for people of color.
The View From A Purple District
An earlier dispatch Oklahoma Watch’s Jennifer Palmer:
No line to vote at Clark Memorial Methodist Church at NW 23rd and MacArthur, where I’ll be checking in throughout the day. Voters here perfectly split the vote for Trump and Clinton in 2016 so it’s about as “purple” as if gets.
I’m planning to talk to voters who fit into each of these categories today. So far I’ve met a Republican ✅, an Independent ✅, and several experienced voters ✅. The older first-time voter is my unicorn. 🦄
Video: I talked with these two first-time voters (and siblings) at the most “purple” precinct today. Julon White, 19, is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University and Venicesa White, 18, is a senior at Putnam City West High School.
Spaced Out and Masked
From Oklahoma Watch’s Whitney Bryen:
At the Church of the Redeemer in northeast Oklahoma City is somewhat spaced out and everyone is wearing a mask.
Five-year-old Noah Garcia got some extra stickers at one of the bluest precincts in the state. There were lots of kids at midday at Church of the Redeemer.
Where Trust in Trump Is Unwavering
Oklahoma Watch reporter Keaton Ross spent the morning at Oklahoma County precinct 68 in Harrah, a community 20 miles east of downtown Oklahoma City. His update:
Video: Janet and Jerry Shurley (below) both say they voted for President Donald Trump. They believe he’s delivered on his campaign promises since 2016, and Harrah will do better under his leadership over the next four years.
Video: Don Murphey, 82, (below) says he voted for Trump because he trusts him to bring more blue-collar jobs back to the U.S. and be tough on China.
I left the polling place to go to the restroom and get some water. Now exploring Harrah. There is a lot of Trump flags/signage. Here’s a local barbershop.
Spotted this on Luther Road between SE 15th and SE 29th Street, where I saw at least five Trump flags within a mile radius.
Chronic Voting Machine Resets in Northeast OKC
When Oklahoma Watch reporter Whitney Bryen joined colleague Supriya Sridhar at Church of the Redeemer on North Martin Luther King Boulevard in northeast Oklahoma City, one of the state’s most heavily Democratic precincts. Here’s Whitney’s update:
The only ballot machine here keeps rejecting poorly or partially marked ballots. That means workers have to reset the machine which takes seven minutes. Workers said this has happened several times.
What Happens When Your Precinct’s Power Is Out
This is not one of the precincts Oklahoma Watch reporters are following, but a power outage on Election Day is significant. Here’s an update via KGOU producer Katelyn Howard:
Northwest Church of Christ, a polling site in Oklahoma City, did not have power for over three hours this morning. Election officials told me over 100 ballots were placed inside this emergency box on the voting machine while the power was out and will be counted later this evening.
Power came back on at around 10:30 a.m. after OG&E brought a generator.
‘What Four Years Have Taught Us’
Oklahoma Watch reporter Supriya Sridhar is reporting from one of the state’s bluest precincts, where residents are casting their votes at the Church of the Redeemer on North Martin Luther King Boulevard in northeast Oklahoma City:
Video: I just chatted with Chris Thurmond (below). He is voting today to bring in change, and hoping the country learns from issues surrounding race and the Black Lives Matter movement going forward.
The line wraps around the church, but seems to be moving at a pretty steady pace.
Video: Kashaunda Hudson-Wyatt (below) said the main reason she came out to vote today isn’t for the president, but for local officials.
Early Voter From Harrah: ‘We’re Prosperous’
The latest from Oklahoma Watch reporter Keaton Ross in Harrah, where 81% of voters supported Donald Trump in 2016: The line is circling around the building at Harrah Church.
Video: Melanie Burnett and her daughter Jennifer (below) both voted for Biden and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. They say they trust Biden to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.
Video: Melody Patterson (below) believes Trump is a better choice for rural voters.
Cindy Pearson, 47, (below) says she voted for Trump again. She says life in Harrah has improved under Trump over the past four years: “We’re prosperous, and the growth is phenomenal. People have jobs, better income and insurance. We’re healthier and happier and go about our business.”
The line to vote has grown over the past hour or so, now stretching into the parking lot.
Where We Are Today
Oklahoma Watch reporters are canvasing three kinds of voting precincts on Election Day in Oklahoma:
- One where voters overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump in 2016.
- One that voted for Hillary Clinton in numbers uncommon for Oklahoma.
- And one that split down the middle in 2016. (In this case, we chose one where the voting was 345-345.)
In other words, we chose some of the reddest, bluest and most purple precincts to get a feel for how a crosssection of Oklahomans look at Election 2020. Here are quick sketches of those areas by the reporters who are visiting them:
A ‘Purple’ Precinct in northwest Oklahoma City
Precinct 1 is a square patch of far western Oklahoma County, from Rockwell Ave. to MacArthur Boulevard. between NW 10th to NW 23rd. More than half of registered voters in the precinct have a Bethany address. In 2016, voters there perfectly split the vote for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with 345 votes (45.9%) each; an additional 61 votes were cast for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Voters here leaned blue for the 2018 gubernatorial election, with 56% favoring Democratic candidate Drew Edmondson versus 38% who voted for Republican Kevin Stitt.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of the Precinct 1 voters are registered Independent – compared to 19% countywide, and just 16% statewide.
The Red Precinct: Harrah
Precinct 68 is located in Harrah, about 20 miles east of downtown Oklahoma City in far southeastern Oklahoma County. It’s borders are Reno Avenue and SE 29th Street, between Luther Road and Pottawatomie Road.
Voters here overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump received 687 (80.4%) votes, while Hillary Clinton took 134 (15.4%) of votes. Independent candidate Gary Johnson received just 34 (4%) votes.
The precinct is predominantly white and middle class, according to U.S. census data. The average age is 40.5, 74% of households are married couples and 52% of the population is male. An estimated 17.4% of the precinct’s population has veteran status.
A majority (63%) of precinct 68 voters are registered Republicans. The remainder are Democrats (20%), Independents (16%) and Libertarians (1%).
A ‘Blue’ Precinct in Northeast Oklahoma City
In the Creston Hills neighborhood in Northeast Oklahoma City sits one of the bluest precincts in Oklahoma. Those who voted at the Church of the Redeemer on N. Martin Luther King Avenue voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 at 95 percent. Much of the area did the same, with Clinton receiving 90% of the vote in the surrounding precincts in northeast Oklahoma City.
Nestled two blocks from the state NAACP headquarters, the precinct is bordered by NE 23rd Street and I-35 to the south and east. Residents in the corresponding census tracts are 81 percent African American. One-third of residents live below the poverty line, twice the state average.
State House Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-OKC, represents and grew up on the Eastside. Pittman said that the area has a large elderly population that votes.
“They still remember getting the right to vote. They still remember fighting for that right, and making sure they do that,” she said. “And I think this year has really seen them transcend that to the younger generation. The younger generation is more involved.”
Supriya Sridhar is a Report for America corps member who covers race in Oklahoma and blight in northeast Oklahoma City. Call or text her at 405-979-0907 Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Supriyasridhar_. DMs are always open.
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