While medical marijuana proved to be a divisive issue — with members of congregations, friends and families crossing traditional party lines to vote Yes or No on State Question 788 — Carter County was united in a unique way on Tuesday.
Going to the polls.
June 26, 2018, could be reflected on as turning point in the State of Oklahoma’s history with SQ 788, a changing of the guard at governor as well as pivotal seat changes in local government.
And Carter County didn’t disappoint with its voter turnout, according to Diane Hall, secretary of the Carter County Elections Board.
In fact, she said it was like 2016, 2012 and 2008 all over again.
“Voter turnout was as high as we would expect from a presidential election — not just a primary,” Hall said.
On Tuesday, votes on 788 alone passed the tally of votes for governor for both parties in Carter County.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, 9,934 voted on State Question 788 in Carter County with over 54 percent voting in favor.
But, despite the statistical evidence that 788 was a central driver in votes, a universal theme among many who spoke with The Ardmoreite after casting their ballots was how voting is merely a part of their civic duty, something they do religiously, regardless of the issue.
James Johnson, an Ardmore resident who voted at the H.F.V. Wilson Community Center, said like all elections, he felt today’s vote was important.
But as far as the long-term impact on 788 getting the majority, Johnson is skeptical.
“It’s critical,” Johnson said. “But I don’t think 788 is going to be as critical as everybody thinks. I think it became a moot point after possession was downgraded to a misdemeanor.”
Officials at the H.F.V Wilson Center said the turnout was high for their precinct. At 3 p.m., Tuesday, 285 had cast their votes.
And at Southwestern Baptist Church it was the same. According to polling representatives, 650 had filled out the ballot by 4 p.m. Officials said people lined up outside the entrance at 6:45 a.m. and it was a steady flow all day.
Of the masses that filled up the church off Myall Road were Ardmore residents Amy and Kris Bell.
“I think a lot of people that don’t normally come out will come out for 788,” Amy Bell said.
They would have come out regardless, like they do every year, Kris Bell said. But Amy Bell said her mind changed on 788 at the last minute.
“Last night, my mind was made up, we were going to vote no,” she said. “But we saw Big Pharma had come up with a medical marijuana pill. We didn’t want them to get all the profits that could go to our state.”
But another voter at Southwest Baptist Church was steadfast in her convictions on 788.
Sister Carolyn Stoutz, who works at Mercy Hospital, said she fears the impact medical marijuana will have on her co-workers at the hospital.
“It’s going to be awful for the people that work in the hospital,” Stoutz said. “People are going to come in looking for medical marijuana and all that stuff. And the valet guys, they’ll have to deal with marijuana being in the cars. There’s just all kinds of stuff that will affect the hospital.”
But with great numbers and reportedly record turnout state-wide, came a few headaches on Tuesday.
The voting location confused some voters as the polling was located in the youth annex building instead of the main church building. But still, well after 7 p.m., other Lone Grove voters stood with pride behind locked doors as they waited in a line that snaked along the walls of the modular building, casting their ballots and letting their voices be heard.