February 12, 2013

Election yields low voter turnout

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Small turnouts resulted in only 79 ballots cast for yesterday's school board elections in Chickasha by 4 p.m.

"We don't really know if the rain affected it," election board secretary, Susan Turner said. "School board elections never have a big turnout."

This year, Chickasha Independent School District Board Member Office 2 is contested by candidates Ryan Copeland, Michael R. Ibsen and Bruce Storms.

"I voted absentee and as of 3 p.m. yesterday, they told me only 19 ballots were cast county wide," Storms said.

Copeland said he was sure the rain affected the turnout.

"A lot of people told me they were voting for me, but you know how that goes," he said.

Turner said she wasn't sure why school board elections yield such small voter turnouts.

"It's they're kids and the people who are taking care of them that are involved. You'd think they're would be a bigger turnout," she said.

Pollsters Darrel Haynes and Mildred McMeans ran the polling location at The Holiday Inn and both commented on the lack of activity over the course of the day.

"I don't think voters think it's that important, but I think it's important," McMeans said. "We need the right people in these spots."

This was the second election of Haynes career as a pollster and he said he was banking on a late afternoon rush.

"Hopefully we will get a run right after school," he said.

McMeans commend on the probability of this trend since many teachers casted their ballots earlier in the day.

"A lot of teachers said they planned to go back and to talk to their fellow teachers and get them to come in," she said.

A lack of publicity also affects the voter turnout during school board elections, said Turner.

"There's no county, sheriff or presidential race on this ballot and people don't tend to pay attention to anything else," she said.

Storms said he hoped the low turnout wouldn't affect his chances at reelection.

"I've given 12 years and if people like what I have been doing they'll reelect me," he said.

Copeland said if elected he plans to take office without an agenda.

"There is all kinds of stuff I want to do, but I think if I go in with some agenda I'll be skewed from the start."