Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oklahoma Election Night Watch Party 2006

I am a political junkie and so I went to the Democratic Party's watch party last night in downtown Oklahoma City. The mood was hopeful and festive and grew as the night went on. The Democratic wave from last night had a small impact in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Democrats gained seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and all but one of the statewide offices (gaining the Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner of Labor positions).

The Republicans ended up tying in the Senate (24-24), but because the Democrat, Jari Askins, won the Lieutenant Governor's position, she will cast the tie-breaking vote. The Lieutenant Governor's office was vacated by Republican Mary Fallin, who won Oklahoma's U.S. House District 5, replacing Republican Earnest Istook, who was crushed by popular Democratic Governor Brad Henry in his reelection bid.

I personally was more interested in the national races than the state or local ones. I had to hijack one of the three TVs in Dr. Hunter's room so I could keep up with the national races. All of the other TVs were tuned to the local races. If the current numbers hold up, it appears that the Democrats will control the U.S. House and Senate.

I went from room to room for all the candidates to see how all of them were doing. Of all the Democrats there, only one lost (Cody Graves, who was challenging for Oklahoma's Corporation Commission against Bob Anthony, who won a lot of public support in the early days by wearing a wire for the police when a lobbyist tried to bribe him -- but even he came surprisingly close).

It really got festive at about 11pm when the final precincts came in for the District Attorney's race for Oklahoma County. With 30 precincts left, word came that the Democrat, David Prater, was 2000 votes short against the Republican incumbent Wes Lane. However, the precincts that were still out were from eastern Oklahoma County in predominantly Democratic areas. With 3 precincts to go, David Prater pulled ahead by 300 votes. Prater, eventually emerged on top by 824 votes out of almost 175,000 cast. The room (and hallway, and foyer down the hall) erupted in celebration. The funny thing is that Prater had the smallest room of all the candidates, but it seemed like he had the most people watching the results. You couldn't hardly get in or out the room by the end (it wasn't easy even before that). After the announcement of the final results, we heard that the incumbent would be asking for a recount.

Oklahoma uses the electronic voting machines that scan paper ballots. The ballots are easy to read and can be hand-counted if necessary. So, the final result will have a high degree of certainty. So, unlike the concerns about the Diebold machines in other states, Oklahoma's elections won't have doubts about the outcome(s) if a recount is necessary.

Overall, it was a good night for the Democrats -- even in Oklahoma.

If you are interested in more results from the Oklahoma election, you can find them at the Oklahoma Election Board site.

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