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Voter registrations suggest a trend

Final numbers won’t be in until later this week, but the trend has been encouraging. The state election board says there were more than 45,000 new voter registrations prior to Friday’s deadline. That’s a good sign because more people will likely participate in the June 26 primary elections.

Many times, apathy has been the winner on election day because voters don’t show up.

The county election board and staff members are getting prepared for the long list of state and county primary candidates listed on the ballot, as well as State Question 788. To be better prepared, readers will want to pick up an election section, to be published June 17.

Nearly 31 percent of the new voter registrations are independents, while 40 percent are Republicans and 28 percent are Democrats, the state election board reports. Libertarians were about 1 percent.

A Republican Party spokeswoman said SQ-788 is driving registrations up. A Democratic Party spokeswoman said new voters often register as independents and she doesn’t find the trend worrisome.

Do the new registration numbers indicate that it’s time to get rid of party primaries? Many people don’t want to be affiliated with either major political party for various reasons and choose to be independents. The advantage is they probably get fewer letters, phone calls, etc., seeking campaign contributions.

Should partisan party primaries be open to all voters, or should they remain closed as they are in Oklahoma? The parties, not the state, make the rules.

California has what has been termed “jungle primaries.” The top two vote getters in the primaries run in November. Two Democrats or two Republicans could face off for governor in November. Hmmm.

Independents — who have no candidates in a party primary — can request a Democratic Party ballot and pick nominees. Oklahoma Democrats changed the rules to allow that option. Republicans have rejected the idea.

SQ-788 is the result of an initiative petition. “A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes.” Will city and county licenses be required, too, as they are for the sale of alcohol? Also, a 7 percent state tax is imposed. If it is a sales tax, then will city and county sales taxes be levying theirs, too?

The state Department of Health, which has had management and financial problems of late, will issue medical marijuana licenses. If the new registration numbers are an indicator, apathy may not be a factor in this month’s party primary election. As George Allen, former Washington Redskins coach, said, “The world is ruled by those who show up.”

 

Warning to political candidates

Former Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich, a Democrat, is in the sixth year of a 14-year sentence in federal penitentiary after a jury convicted him of violating campaign contribution laws. In the Wall Street Journal last week, Blagojevich wrote an opinion urging candidates to end raising campaign funds because they could suffer a fate similar to his. It is quite scary, when you consider all the investigations that have gone on during the Clinton, Obama and Trump presidencies, and even back to Gov. David Hall. No, we didn’t attend the governor’s trial, hear the closing arguments, or read instructions to the jury. But if Blagojevich is mostly right, then we all may be closer to an abusive government than we realize. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Under the headline, “I’m in prison for practicing politics,” Blagojevich, a lawyer, writes that when federal prosecutors and investigative agencies “can’t prove a crime against you, they create one.”

“Did you know that an elected official asking for a campaign contribution is the same as a dirty cop asking a motorist for a cash bribe to tear up a speeding ticket? I never did. Yet that is what a federal prosecutor told the jury during my second trial on bribery and extortion charges in 2011.

“The jury was instructed to infer a quid pro quo, even though no favors were offered or exchanged. The prosecutor told the jurors that if they felt I’d had a belief, expectation or hope that I might receive a campaign contribution because of actions I took as governor, they had to convict me. It didn’t matter that no evidence existed that explicit promises had been made.”

Blagojevich warns all candidates that “this new, lesser standard used against me to infer a quid pro quo can now be used against you, too.”

Candidates, pay attention.

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