LOCAL

Election Day: What you need to know before you head to the polls

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Election day is finally here.

Although hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans have already cast their ballots either through absentee or early voting, officials expect thousands more to head to the polls today.

State Question 805

Inmates are seen within a jury box during court proceedings in an Oklahoma courtroom. The defendants were handcuffed together in pairs or groups of three. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Organizers say State Question 805 is a criminal justice reform measure that would end the use of sentence enhancements for nonviolent offenses, and it would allow inmates who have already received an extreme sentence to petition the court for relief.

Sentence enhancements add additional prison time for repeat offenders, often times well beyond what is considered the ‘maximum’ sentence for a crime.

Critics argue that approving State Question 805 would allow inmates who were convicted of domestic violence or DUI to be released from prison early.

Supporters contend that sentence enhancements are most often used on property and drug offenses.

State Question 814

Smoking

After Oklahoma voters approved a state question in June to expand Medicaid coverage in the Sooner State, lawmakers have been working to find out how to pay for it.

Their proposed solution is to redirect incoming money from the state’s tobacco settlement. Each year, the state receives millions of dollars from big tobacco companies.

Officials say 75% of those funds go into the TSET fund while the other 25% goes directly to the state. TSET then makes interest off that endowment.

State Question 814 would flip-flop the percentages, putting 75% of the new revenue into the general health care fund to help Medicaid expansion and 25% to the TSET fund.

TSET supporters say their programs have helped thousands of Oklahomans quit smoking, but there is still work to be done when it comes to teens and e-cigarette use.

However, supporters of the state question argue that most tobacco cessation programs will be covered under Medicaid.

Oklahoma City Amendments to City Charter

Downtown Oklahoma City
Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is seen from the air, July 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Officials say residents in Oklahoma City will also see several amendments to the city charter on their ballot.

Proposition 1

The proposition would change the name of the February election to the “general” election and April’s election would become the “runoff” election.

Councilmembers and the mayor would take office four weeks after the “runoff” election, instead of one week.

Also, requirements for election notices and candidacy declarations would be changed to comply with current state law, which already supersedes the charter.

Proposition 2

The proposed amendment would affect qualifications to run for mayor or a city council seat.

Candidates would be required to live in Oklahoma City for at least one year before filing for office. The charter currently requires at least three years of residency, which federal courts have ruled is too long and unreasonably restricts the right to run for office.

Candidates would be required to be a registered voter in Oklahoma City for the year immediately preceding a formal declaration of candidacy.

Candidates for council seats would also be required to be registered to vote in the ward in which they are running for at least one year before a formal declaration of candidacy.

Proposition 3

The proposition would extend the time period from 15 days to 30 days to call a special election, or to appoint a temporary mayor if the office is vacant. Appointment of a temporary mayor can only occur if the vacancy is in the last year of the term.

Proposition 4

This proposition would amend a requirement for council meeting to match the current practice of setting meeting schedules by ordinance. The council currently meets every other Tuesday.

Proposition 5

This proposition would allow the mayor or a council person to provide information to the city manager about a city employee’s job performance. Officials say the information would be required to be based on direct personal knowledge, or a signed, written statement from a resident.

The city charter prohibits the mayor or councilmembers from giving orders to city manager subordinates, and from directing or requesting appointment or removal of a city employee. The change would allow the mayor and councilmembers to provide positive or negative feedback without violating the charter, city leaders say.

Proposition 6

This would clarify who is in the city’s Division of Public Affairs, which is under the control of the city council. It would include the city manager, municipal counselor, city auditor, municipal court judges, and all city boards, commissions and committees created by the mayor and council.

Proposition 7

This would change the term ‘councilman’ to ‘councilmember’ or ‘councilor.’

Proposition 8

The proposal would amend the section of the charter granting powers to the city government and reformat it into five subsections for easier reading. It would also add the word ‘welfare’ to the list of powers for enacting and enforcing ordinances “to protect health, safety, welfare, life or property.”

Proposition 9

The proposition would re-word a section heading and more clearly state its apparent, original intent to prevent improper transactions related to certain businesses, and city franchise agreements.

It would prevent city employees and officers from accepting things of value on terms unavailable to the general public from privately-owned transportation businesses and utilities. It would allow for franchises and contracts to be conditions upon free service for city employees and officers while engaged in official duties.

Race for the U.S. Senate

In the race for a U.S. Senate seat, newcomer Abby Broyles is taking on incumbent Jim Inhofe.

Sen. Inhofe has been in the United States Senate since 1994. He serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He says he is committed to rebuilding the American military to address growing threats from our enemies. Inhofe says he believes that the country should build a wall at the southern border to stop illegal immigration from Mexico and he introduced the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act, which requires migrants to declare asylum at embassies in Mexico or Canada before they can enter the United States. Inhofe says he believes many areas like healthcare and education are better left to the state level rather than legislating it from a federal level.

Broyles spent many years as a journalist focused on investigative reporting into politicians and the justice system. She soon decided to put herself through law school while also reporting at KFOR. In her bid for a U.S. Senate seat, Broyles says she wants to work to help close the gender pay gap, create affordable healthcare for Oklahomans with pre-existing conditions, fully fund our military bases, and update federal laws in terms of medical marijuana.

A.D. Nesbit is also in the race as an independent. She says she is an educator, scientist and mother whose main goals are children’s advocacy and financial security.

Joan Farr is running as an independent and says she wants to ensure justice and help in the recovery from COVID-19. She says she wants to overhaul the legal system and help people get out of debt.

Robert Murphy is running as a libertarian. He says most of the problems the country is facing are the result of too much centralized control of the economy and culture by corporate, political, and bureaucratic experts.

Race for U.S. House of Representatives District 5

Voters will also choose between incumbent Kendra Horn and former state senator Stephanie Bice in the U.S. House of Representatives race for District 5.

Rep. Horn, a fifth generation Oklahoman, is currently serving in her first term in Congress. Horn runs two nonprofits focused on developing leadership skills and encouraging women to run for public office, and she has also worked in the aerospace industry and as an attorney. Horn says she is fighting to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare by holding insurance companies accountable, to expand job training programs, create a comprehensive infrastructure plan to fix crumbling roads and bridges, and find new opportunities for rural investment.

Bice was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 2014 and served for two years as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Chair of Senate Finance Committee. Bice is well-known for overhauling the state’s liquor laws. In her bid for Congress, Bice says she wants to enforce strong border protections with a wall, additional border agents and technology. She says she wants to work to find a way to address high prescription drug costs while also supporting funding for vocational schools and training programs to expand career options for Oklahomans.

Oklahoma County Sheriff

Voters in Oklahoma County will choose between Tommie Johnson III and Wayland Cubit for the Oklahoma County Sheriff.

Johnson, who defeated current sheriff P.D. Taylor in a runoff primary race in August, began his Law Enforcement career with the University of Oklahoma Police Department. In 2015, he joined the Norman Police Department, where he is currently a Master Police Officer.

Johnson testified before a Capitol committee in support of safety legislation and participated in a safety video for the State Department of Education. He volunteers as the Republican Party Chairman for his precinct, a youth sports coach and mentor for at risk youth in local elementary schools.

Cubit won the Democratic nomination in June in his primary race against Virgil L. Green Sr. He is a 21-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department and has 24 years of combined law enforcement experience.

Cubit established OKCPD’s Family Awareness and Community Teamwork Unit (F.A.C.T.), a youth outreach program that focuses on mentorship, building character and empowering at-risk youth, according to a news release issued by his campaign in January.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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