Oklahoma Engaged

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma’s prisons are crowded, and the state continues to incarcerate offenders at the second- highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Two state questions on the November 8 ballot aim to ease both of those strains.  

As KOSU and KGOU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

Josh Robinson

For weeks now, KOSU and KGOU have been unveiling stories on voter participation and the Oklahoma ballot in advance of the November 8 election.

The collaborative project, Oklahoma Engaged, examines and explains ballot measures and key political races with an emphasis on voter apathy, changing demographics and other factors impacting voter turnout.

Josh Robinson

Oklahoma teachers haven’t received a statewide pay raise in eight years. But this November, voters will have a chance to boost teacher pay if they approve State Question 779, which would fund the raises through a one-cent sales tax.

Education advocates say this could prevent teachers from fleeing the state, or the profession, for better paying jobs. But opponents argue the proposal would create an entirely different set of problems.

THE CASE FOR MORE FUNDING

There’s a fairly widespread consensus in Oklahoma that education needs more funding.

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Oklahoma's execution practices were under the national spotlight when the 2015 legislative session began. A few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail, Oklahoma state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 31.

'A necessary amendment'

Purman Wilson Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society

Oklahomans are considering some of the biggest changes to the state’s liquor laws since the end of prohibition. If approved, State Question 792 would amend the state constitution and alter a system with roots planted during the days of Indian Territory.

“There he is!” Bryan Kerr said with a laugh, as he greeted a customer at his liquor store in Moore. ”You’re always showing up at exactly the right time.”

The customer navigated through rows of bottles at Moore Liquor, while Kerr slipped outside. He took a few steps to an adjoining storefront to another business he owns: Party Moore.

“A lot of people mistake it for like a Party Galaxy or Party City. It is not that,” Kerr said as he cracked open the store’s door. “It is a party store that is exclusively built for parties that have alcohol in them.”

Josh Robinson

43 states had a higher voter turnout than Oklahoma in the last presidential election in 2012. We wanted to know more about why the state’s voter turnout is so low.

With support from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, KOSU and KGOU are collaborating on a series called Oklahoma Engaged. In the first of several stories, we focus on the state’s changing electorate.

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