Welcome to the 2020 Oklahoma Voter Guide
VOTING IS VITAL
HANNIBAL B. JOHNSON, a Harvard Law School graduate, is an author, attorney, consultant, and college professor. He writes, teaches, and lectures about African American history.
Dear Fellow Oklahomans,
Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy. It empowers us to choose those whom we want to represent us — those upon whom we bestow power to manage and lead the systems and institutions that cause democracy to flourish or flounder.
Civil rights legend John Lewis, heralded for his lifelong commitment to making democracy work for all Americans, championed voting rights in the Civil Rights Era and beyond. He and others put their lives on the line — literally — for a core principle underlying democratic elections: one person, one vote.
We remember Freedom Summer. We remember James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. We remember the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Voting gives us voice. The franchise is our top-shelf tool for fixing what ails our democracy at the local, state, and national levels.
Congressman Lewis, in his final essay published posthumously in the New York Times, opined:
“[E]ach of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
We each have individual agency — the power to effect change in ways sometimes imperceptible, sometimes immeasurable, but always impactful. Voting is one profound way to exercise that agency, to unleash that power.
We are approaching the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a most undemocratic event. It is fitting that we consider how to leverage the lessons of our historical racial trauma in ways that honor the memory of those who bled and died so we — all of us — might fully engage with our Democracy.
Leaders like Oklahoma’s own civil rights icon, Clara Luper, understood the imperative of making America a more perfect union through voting, advocacy, and activism.
If we want communities that are responsive to our needs, if we want leaders who maintain their fidelity to our Constitution and other laws, and if we want fellow citizens who are willing to do the hard work essential to maintaining our democracy, then voting is vital.
Do your part. If you are not registered, register now. If you are unfamiliar with polling places, alternatives to in-person voting, or the issues and candidates, become familiar. Do your homework. If you need assistance with voting, seek it out; come up with a plan.
Voting is not optional. It’s our civic duty. Voting is vital.