Officials skeptical of Oklahoma poll in which 9 out of 10 voters plan to vote

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY – Nine out of 10 Oklahomans polled in a recent survey said they planned to vote in the coming election, but officials said expecting such a turnout would be ludicrous.

"This is just not true," state election board secretary Lance Ward said, adding that many of those polled were probably afraid of appearing un-American to pollsters.

The poll, sponsored by The Daily Oklahoman, surveyed 401 Oklahomans last week.

Eighty-six percent of those polled said they "definitely will vote," while 5 percent said they probably will vote in the November election.

In 1996, only 62 percent of registered Oklahomans voted in the general election, Mr. Ward said.

Nationally, only between 47 percent and 52 percent of registered voters will vote this November, said Washington-based pollster Curtis Gans, an expert on voter apathy.

Gary Copeland, an OU political science professor in charge of the poll, said that he didn't think those polled lied about their intentions but that voting was a matter of circumstance.

"Any citizen can get busy picking up kids or going to the grocery store, and even with good intentions, forget to vote," Mr. Copeland said.

Four years ago, 49 percent of the registered voters in the United States cast ballots – a 25 percent decline since 1968, Mr. Gans said.

National polls have found that half of voters feel that their votes don't count and that it doesn't matter who is president.

But those polled in Oklahoma had a positive outlook on voting, with 83 percent saying they feel their vote counts and nearly 75 percent saying the outcome of the presidential race will affect their lives.

The poll has a margin of error of 5 percent, meaning the results can vary by that much in either direction.