Your Vote is Your Voice

Written by: Ashley Bender and Michael Olson

Your vote is your voice. 

It is easy to feel that your individual vote may not have a huge impact, but if your vote joins enough others in your voting district or county, then your vote undoubtedly matters.

More than 130,000 Oklahomans have already cast ballots, either in person or by mail. Data available Friday from the Oklahoma State Election Board showed just over 72,000 Oklahomans, more than half of whom were Republicans, voted in person on Wednesday and Thursday. Nearly two-thirds of absentee ballots have been returned — 62,000 of the 99,000 that the state mailed out.

This election will determine various positions such as governor, all seven members of Oklahoma's federal congressional delegation, state attorney general, Oklahoma County District Attorney, numerous Judges and more. Since this ballot is so large, it can feel overwhelming; with that in mind, we hope this piece may help to simplify the process.

Day Of

It is important to make a plan to vote. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. November 8th. Lines at the polls are typically longest before work, during the lunch hour, and after work. If turnout is heavy at your precinct, be prepared for possible wait times. All eligible voters in line by 7 p.m. will be permitted to vote.

Did you know that according to State Law 26 O.S. § 7-101 your employer is required by law to allow up to two hours to vote on election day?

You are allowed to bring notes into the voting booth, but you are not allowed to show them to anyone. Writing down the candidates you intend to vote for on a paper beforehand will help you make an informed decision and reduce ballot fatigue. There are many decisions to make in the voting booth on Election Day. Find your polling place, confirm your registration, and even view a sample ballot at We strongly encourage all to check their polling location since statutory redistricting caused some precincts to change.

Oklahoma law requires every voter who votes in person to show proof of identity before receiving a ballot, so make sure you have your ID when you go to your polling place.

If you need assistance with transportation on Election Day, Lyft is offering 50% off up to $10 in ride credits to help people in need get to the polls. Enter code VOTE22 in the Lyft app.

What Is A District Attorney?

A District Attorney is often the top law enforcement official in a designated area and works to prosecute crimes on behalf of the State and the people of their districts. District Attorneys are the ones who focus on prosecuting crimes after arrest. A District Attorney or DA is allowed large amounts of discretion to shape law enforcement policy at the local level. District Attorney discretion affects everything from average sentence length, to the most common charges filed, to the average monetary penalty attached to each crime. 

However, even with such wide ranging effects on the local criminal legal system, it is nearly impossible for the average citizen to understand the differences between each candidate. We have provided a couple nonpartisan resources to help voters make an informed decision in the Oklahoma County District Attorney Race, including fact-checking the candidates, and their debate held on October 11th.

How Do You Vote For Judges?

There are several different types of Judges that are on the ballot in Oklahoma. There are multiple levels of the judicial system starting at the trial court level, which is the first to hear and decide on a criminal case. District Court Judges act as the chief judge for a designated geographical area at the trial court level. Both District Court Judges and Assistant District Court Judges are elected to four year terms. 

Much like District Attorneys, District Judges have huge amounts of discretion as a necessary function of the law, but have little to no accessible data to judge their performance. As these judges act as the first, and in most cases, the last word on each criminal case in their district, understanding how they use their discretion becomes very important to voters. The result of this lack of information is a clear bias for incumbents who win judicial elections at a rate of over 90%

At the top level, Supreme Court Judges in Oklahoma are appointed by the Governor and are up for a retention vote after six years. This means that the people have a chance to decide to either keep the Judge for another term or force the governor to appoint a new one. However, retention elections are even more lopsided in favor of incumbents, with one survey studying over 5,000 retention elections from 1964 to 2004 and finding less than 1% were not retained. Never once has Oklahoma voted to not retain a sitting Supreme Court Judge. You can find more information on appellate judges here or a non-partisan judicial candidate guide here.


League of Women Voters of Oklahoma’s Nonpartisan Voting Guide

A Non-Partisan Judicial Candidate Guide

Defining a Retention Ballot and Appellate Judges

Vote411 Information on Oklahoma

Ballot Ready; A Nonpartisan Organization with Guides to Voting