Canadian County voter spike prompts need for new precincts

Three polling places each have more than 5,000 registered voters

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By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

With nearly 30,000 more registered voters in Canadian County than there were 10 years ago, the Canadian County Election Board is seeking places to open new polling precincts.

Canadian County’s population increased by 33.6% – to 154,405 – in the 2020 U.S. Census. There were 115,541 residents in the 2010 Census.

Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold

Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold is waiting until Congress, the Oklahoma Legislature and county commissioners finalize new district boundaries this fall before updating her precinct maps.

Canadian County now has 50 voting precincts in 44 polling places.

“I definitely will need to have five, if not 10, new precincts,” Armold said. “I’m going to have to find buildings for those people to vote in, and workers to work in those precincts. That is not easy. I have to have equal representation (of political parties).

“The position that’s hard to fill is the inspector.”

Canadian County election officials expect to revise the voting precincts in December and January. Annual school elections are next February and candidate filings for Canadian County, municipal and legislative district offices will be in April.

Most existing Canadian County polling places are inside churches. Others are in community centers, a town hall, fire station, fine arts auditorium, and a car dealership.

“Churches usually meet federal guidelines for handicapped accessibility,” Armold explained. “I also have to be concerned about how far it is to the front door, if it’s a well-lighted location, if the door has easy access, and if the halls are wide enough.”

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POPULATION EXPLOSION

After the 2010 Census, Canadian County election officials tried to keep each polling precinct at no more than 1,500 registered voters.

But a population explosion across eastern Canadian County voided that effort.

Three large Canadian County polling precincts have grown tremendously in the past decade. Each site has at least tripled in size, according to the number of registered voters:

  • Precinct 200 – Surrey Hills Baptist Church, 12421 N Mustang Road (7,067 voters)
  • Precinct 506 – Piedmont First Baptist Church, 15 Jackson Avenue NW (5,395 voters)
  • Precinct 303 – Church of Christ West Metro, 4900 S Cemetery Road (5,171 voters)

“Some of the outlying Yukon precincts have over 3,000 (voters) in them now,” Armold noted.

Piedmont’s other polling precinct, #504 at Piedmont United Methodist Church, also has grown to more than 3,000 registered voters.

In fact, Piedmont may get two new precincts after redistricting.

“Probably so, if I can find buildings for people to vote in,” Armold said.

Canadian County’s voter registration rolls have followed the county’s surging population trends over the past decade.

As of Oct. 1, there were 88,875 registered voters in Canadian County. The county had about 60,000 registered voters after the 2010 census.

Here is the voter registration breakdown by political party:

  • Republican – 53,882
  • Democrat – 19,252
  • Independent – 14,876
  • Libertarian – 865

Canadian County’s election board chief is confident that state and county officials will finalize redistricting “in a timely manner” so her staff can update the precinct maps in time for a busy 2022 election season.