By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said that nearly 68,000 new voters have been registered in Oklahoma this year. Of those, more than two-thirds have registered Republican. Since Jan. 1, Oklahoma Republicans have added 45,094 voters, while Democrats have added just 6,940 voters.
“Today’s voter registration numbers echo what we have been saying since I became chairman in 2010,” OKGOP Chairman Matt Pinnell said. “The Democrat Party — both on a national and state level— has taken a hard-left turn and is not turning back. It is no coincidence that as the Oklahoma Democratic Party has taken positions increasingly at odds with Oklahoma voters, that voter registration is tilting even more Republican.”
Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams said voter registration county-wide also has shown a transition toward more registered Republicans.
“We have a total of 146,150 registered voters,” Williams said. “Of those, 69,778 are Republicans, 56,009 are Democrats and we have 20,363 Independents.”
Shifts in candidates and officer holders have preceded those voter trends. Republican candidates in the state and county primaries outnumbered Democrats.
“We’re talking about a trend that has been going on in Cleveland County for about 10 years,” Williams said. “Republicans do have the majority here in Cleveland County.”
Cleveland County Republican Chair Bobby Cleveland said he’s witnessed the growth firsthand.
“In just my race alone, I registered close to 100 people,” he said.
Cleveland won the primary for State House District 20 against three same party opponents. The Democratic candidate, Matt Branstetter, had one opponent. House District 20 was an open seat in a newly created district.
“The Democrats outnumbered us just two years ago,” Cleveland said. “Now in Cleveland County and McClain County, the Republican party is in the majority in good numbers. What I’m finding knocking doors is even the Democrats are voting Republican.”
Paula Roberts served as the Cleveland County Election Board secretary for 22 years. Roberts said the shift has been going on for a long time.
“Statewide, Democrats were the majority when I took office in 1989,” Roberts said. “Over the years, what we were seeing was Republicans were increasing and Democrats were losing registrations, but some of those were changing to Independents. We were seeing a growth in Independent registrations.”
Roberts is running for State House 45. She had no primary challengers, but her Republican opponent, incumbent Aaron Stiles, had a challenger in the primary.
The trend for more GOP candidates was echoed in many local races. House Seat 45 had one Democrat, Claudia Griffith, but four Republican candidates battled it out in the primary. Rob Standridge, who will face Griffith on Nov. 6, won the GOP privileges after a primary and a runoff election.
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