Voters in Logan County were excited to go out and cast their ballot for their candidate on Tuesday. However, several registered Democrat voters were turned away from casting their vote. Now, many are wanting to see a change.
“If you are (a) Democrat, can’t vote today. Three of us were turned away,” Deborah Dean commented in a Guthrie News Page Facebook post. “At least we tried to do our citizens duty and vote for the local sheriff and county commissioner.”
All seven sheriff candidates and all three county commissioner candidates were registered Republicans. There were zero Democrat candidates.
Simply put, Logan County registered Democrat voters were not allowed to vote in the primary election and will also be shut-out for the sheriff’s primary runoff on Aug. 23.
Unlike the Democratic and Libertarians parties, the Republican Party does not allow Independent voters to vote in Republican primaries.
Several showed their displeasure for not being allowed to vote in the sheriff’s race.
“Sheriff and DA (district attorney) should be a straight vote, no parties,” Guthrie resident Kathy Hayes said in a social media post.
Cashion Police Chief Veronica Thomas, one of the seven sheriff candidates, says she believes the law needs to be changed.
“I have been trying to talk to legislators to remove party affiliation in any county race. I don’t think party plays a role in local politics. It should be strictly qualifications.”
While not having a vote, some Democrats considered changing party affiliations during the primary so they can cast their vote in August, but the law simply does not allow it.
Primaries, elections directed toward selecting a party nominee, are held between April and September. The law is designed to prevent skewing or hampering with elections.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, registered voters may change registration at any time with one exception. They can not change political affiliation during the period from April 1 through August 31, inclusive, in any even-numbered year. The last day on which voters can change their political affiliation before the closed period is March 31; the first day on which you may change your political affiliation after the closed period is September 1.
Oklahoma is a party system state, not an open primary state. Only 18 states are open primary. Four states are partially open depending on the party.
Simply put, Republicans can only vote for Republicans in the primary election, same for Democrats and Libertarians. The intent is for each party to select their nominee. The winners of each party primary then face off in the general election in November, which is an open vote and not party dependent.
For the sheriff’s race, there will be no November election and not a single Democrat vote will be casted for the top law enforcement position in the county in 2016.