Voters showed up with gusto for the midterms in Carter County.
Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall said unofficial totals, which don’t include provisional ballots, show about 14,000 votes cast in the gubernatorial race. She said that within the next few days, the board will know the official total.
“It’s not as big as a presidential election, but it is more than it was in 2014,” Hall said. “We still have some provisionals, so totals can change.”
Hall said national AT&T cellphone service outages may have caused an increase in the number of provisional ballots given to voters who weren’t able to cast their ballots during the day.
“When people went to the wrong polling place, (volunteers) couldn’t call us to find out where to tell them to go,” Hall said.
Throughout the day, polling places kept lines moving at a steady pace despite the crowds. Paula Rush, a longtime Carter County election volunteer, said turnout at her polling station was larger than the primaries.
“Today has been even better,” Rush said.
She said that aside from minor snags, her polling station was coping with the crowds fairly well.
“Of course you’re always going to have a few people who go to the wrong place, but it’s been very smooth,” Rush said. “With our voting machines, there’s very little room for error.”
Statewide turnout reached roughly 50 percent, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Wanetta Thompson, a teacher in Dickson, has lived in Carter County for roughly 50 years. She said while she’s been a regular voter since she was a young adult, she’s noticed an uptick in civic involvement within the last year.
“I think after the teacher walkout last year, it inspired a lot of people to pay attention to politics,” Thompson said.
Robyn Howard, 32, said she knew people that voted for the first time on Tuesday. She said many people became more active specifically after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
“I think a lot of times it makes a big difference who the president is,” Howard said. “A lot of people are either for him or not for him.”
She said other factors, like the statewide teacher walkout, likely drew more people to the polls as well. She said that as a mother, education in Oklahoma is one of her personal priorities.
“These are the people who are educating our children, who are going to be our future voters,” Howard said.
Morgan Williams, 24, said she’s spoken to many people that see voting as meaningless.
“How many thousands of voters are in that category, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just my one vote,’?” Williams said. “Especially in a smaller community. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain to me.”
She said among her peer group, religious convictions are a strong motivator.
“It makes you want to stand up for what you believe in,” Williams said.
Emmett Farve, 29, said while he’s always been an avid voter, some of his friends were pushed to the polls by the teacher walkout as well.
“I have friends that have started becoming more vocal, and some that think the election doesn’t effect them,” Farve said.
He said Trump’s election and the teacher walkout have brought more attention to local politics than he’d previously seen.
“I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and obviously I listen when they put in their two cents about how things need to change,” Farve said.