The 2020 presidential election saw record numbers of voter turnout.
Over 150 million Americans cast their ballot, nearly two-thirds of all eligible voters in the country.
And while Oklahoma's turnout numbers were up as well, the Sooner state lagged in the rate of increase.
“Oklahoma seems to be near the bottom of the pack, unfortunately,” said Michael McDonald, Political science professor at the University of Florida. “I think there are a couple of reasons for that one id that Oklahoma simply isn't a battleground state.”
McDonald has tracked voter turnout data in the U.S since 2000 and while the state of Oklahoma reports roughly 70% of registered voters actually voted in the state. McDonald says out of the total number of those eligible to vote in the state only 55.5% actually did.
“Oklahoma didn't take as many steps to make sure mail balloting as convenient as other states did," said McDonald. "And even though Oklahoma does have in-person early voting it still didn't make mail balloting as convenient as other states.”
Matt Motta, a political science professor at Oklahoma State University, wasn’t entirely surprised that Oklahoma trailed the pack because there was no inclination the state could flip blue.
“This was obviously a very contentious election. People on both sides were motivated to turn out in greater numbers than they have before,” said Motta. “While there were contentious ballot initiatives, while there was a very close house race in Oklahoma's 5th district in Oklahoma county and elsewhere, the presidential race was never that contentious.”
Motta said that he doesn’t want to downplay the increase in people who voted in this election but he doesn’t see a rise in turnout in Oklahoma's future.
According to the Tulsa County Election Board, voter turnout grew from 69.9% in 2016 to 71.3% in 2020.