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January 18, 2012

Grady County releases 'election' results

CHICKASHA — It was just a little ol' country election that sent 300 souls give or take to the Grady County Election Board on Jan. 13.

Yes, voter turnout was light. Maybe because not many folks knew about the election since elections are ALWAYS on a Tuesday and the 13th was a Friday. Or maybe because not one of the Republican presidential wannabes even tried to get on the ballot.

Still, there were plenty of choices when it came time to mark those ballots.

The "election" was actually a test run of new voting machines, said Grady County Election Board Secretary Susan Turner. And the voting and tallying went off without a hitch. Well, other than a few, um, surprises among the results.

In a six-way race for best historial role model, native son Will Rogers emerged the clear favorite with 127 votes or 43.79 percent of the tally. The humorist's finish eclipsed Henry Iba's 54 votes and 42 cast for Bud Wilkinson. The field also included Jeanne Kirkpatrick with 26 votes, Clara Luper with 25 and Sequoyah with just 16.

Another clear winner emerged in balloting for the best Oklahoma treat. Braum's ice cream took 47.85 percent of the votes cast with 145. Mother Nature finished second with 53 votes cast for Oklahoma pecans. Bama Pie and Sonic cherry limeade split third and fourth with 42 votes. Twenty-one caffiene aficionados cast their lot with Java Dave's Coffee.

Balloting for best Oklahoma athlete included the first upset with former Sooner football standout Sam Bradford taking the lead with 75 votes or 24.04 percent. The voting put Bradford well ahead of his closest challenger, Mickey Mantle. "The Mick" drew an 18.27 percent share with 57 votes. The Thunder's Kevin Durant was third with 50 votes. Rounding out the field were Jim Thorpe, 42 votes; Shannon Miller, 36 votes; Barry Sanders, 34 votes; and Nancy Lopez, 18 votes.

The voting for best Oklahoma sports team was as skewed as the 2011-12 Bedlam results. The Oklahoma State Cowboys received 119 votes to upset the second place Oklahoma Sooners' 105 votes. In a distant third with just 51 votes was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Also-rans included the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes with 27 votes and the Tulsa Shock with 11.

American Idol notwithstanding, Carrie Underwood finished a disappointing fifth out of eight in balloting for best Oklahoma musician - a race that went to Reba McEntire who garnered 66 votes or 20.89 percent. Vince Gill was second with 61 votes and Garth Brooks and Toby Keith took third and fourth places with 54 and 50 votes, respectively. Trailing were Wayman Tisdale, 25 votes; Woody Guthrie, 22 votes; and The Flaming Lips, 11 votes. Which just goes to show Bricktown hype is hype by any other name and throughout the rest of Oklahoma, country singers will always win out.

In what was arguably the strangest dark horse candidate to emerge a front runner, Chuck Norris bested several challengers for bragging rights to best Oklahoma actor. The aging martial arts celebrity won 87 votes - just under 30 percent - to send his closest competition packing. Kristin Chenoweth was second with 77 votes and Brad Pitt was third with 70 votes. Those three easily left the rest of the field choking on their dust. James Marsden finished with 23 votes to 19 votes for Olivia Munn and 17 votes for Wes Studi. Which leaves this writer wondering why Norman's own James Garner wasn't even on the ballot.   

Turner said the new machines don't really look so different from those in use for the past several years. Each machine, however, is about 10 pounds lighter than the predecessor, which makes it easier on the election workers whose job description includes lugging them out to the polling places and back to the election board. The technology is newer, too, cutting the time it takes to get results once the polls close. About the only change voters will notice, however, is that they no longer draw a line connecting the halves of an arrow to mark their choice. Instead, choices are indicated by filling in a box.

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