Local, state Democrats choose Biden: Carter County voter turnout down from 2016 primary election

Michael Smith
A small slot hangs open on the front of a voting machine on Tuesday. The electronic machine has a low-tech lock box available so ballots can be safely recorded in the event of a power outage.

A power outage in Wilson on election day didn’t stop primary ballots from being cast. According to Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall, that was the only hiccup as 5,318 voters across the county headed to the polls for the presidential preferential primary on Tuesday.

About 600,000 people turned out to cast primary ballots across Oklahoma, according to unofficial results from the Oklahoma State Election Board. Former Vice President Joe Biden received almost 39% of state Democratic support which put Sen. Bernie Sanders in second with about 25%.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each received about 14% of the party’s support statewide.

A total of 5,859 votes were counted in Carter County, including 400 early votes and 151 absentee ballots. Former Vice President Joe Biden received 41% of county Democratic support while Sen. Bernie Sanders and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each received about 18% of Democratic support.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren finished a distant fourth in Carter County with only 241 total votes.

For a handful of paper ballots at a Wilson polling place, an electronic machine was unable to count them after a power outage. Hall said the machines are equipped with a locked compartment that can accept ballots in such an event. Once polls closed at 7 p.m., those ballots were unlocked at the election board office and counted.

Even though most attention was on the Democratic primary, more Carter County ballots were cast for President Donald Trump on the Republican ballot than for all Democratic candidates combined.

A similar trend could be seen statewide. Trump received nearly 260,000 votes—about 93% of all GOP ballots—compared to a similar amount of votes cast for all Democratic candidates.

Registered Republicans make up about 42% of all Carter County voters while registered Democrats make up about 38%.

Trump faced five party challengers, but none other than former Rep. Joe Walsh earned more than 1% of Oklahoma Republican votes.

Carter County voter turnout dropped compared to the 2016 primary election, especially the number of Democratic ballots. Despite a strong 19.8% turnout among eligible registered voters on Tuesday, the 2020 Presidential Preferential Primary brought out about 2,100 fewer voters than four years ago.

Sanders carried 22 of 25 Carter County precincts in 2016 but failed to win any on Tuesday. Bloomberg had more votes than Sanders in nine county precincts and only had seven fewer votes across the entire county.

Oklahoma had 37 delegates up for grabs in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. A candidate can win the party nomination outright if they can secure at least 1,991 of the 3,979 delegates available in all the primary contests before the Democratic National Convention on July 13.