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Metro briefs: Bad voters?


Ben Felder June 25th, 2014

Toby Keith, the country music star who often sings about America’s greatness, has been less than patriotic when comes to voting.

The Norman resident last voted 596 days ago, according to data from the Oklahoma Election Board that is organized on a new website called BadVoter.org.

The website allows any Oklahoma resident to look up their own name to see how many days it has been since they last cast a ballot.

The catch? You can also look up the name of your friends, family, employers, elected officials and even famous Oklahomans. According to the site, Thunder coach Scott Brooks and business owner Aubrey McClendon have not voted in almost 600 days, while Barry Switzer cast a ballot in the most recent election.

The website was produced by board members from the Oklahoma chapter of Common Cause, a nonpartisan political organization. However, the website is not an official project of Common Cause, which said it was not in favor of the tactic being used by Bad Voter.

“The badvoter.org website has no affiliation — official or otherwise — with Common Cause or Common Cause Oklahoma,” said Jenny Rose Flanagan, vice president of state operations for Common Cause. “We work across the country to protect and strengthen voting rights, and we encourage citizens to exercise their rights. We’re emphatically not in favor of pressuring or shaming people to get them to vote.”

Those behind the site understand the negative response it could generate, but they say it’s worth it in order to increase voter participation.

“[We are] in favor of getting as many people to vote as possible, and we think this is a tactic that could work,” said Richard Hilbert, a board member of Common Cause.

BadVoter.org is not the first time the shame attempt has been put into practice. In 2012, Americans for Limited Government (ALG) sent out letters telling recipients when they last voted, along with the voting history of their neighbors.

Rick Manning, vice president of public policy and communications at ALG, said the letters were a one-time experiment.

“It was the right idea to encourage people to vote,” he said.

Manning said the experiment was halted after some recipients complained. In some cases, voter data was incorrect, Manning said.

However, BadVoter.org only works as people visit the site, rather than sending voter information to unsuspecting people.

“There is some significant research that indicates that ... if you know your neighbors know you have not exercised your duty [to vote], this may be a motivation to do so,” Manning said.

Fresh coat of paint
Two low-income, predominately Latino Oklahoma City neighborhoods will welcome busloads of volunteers to help homeowners with various restoration projects this week.

The program is a partnership between Catholic HeartCamp, Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma, the City of OKC, HIS Paint, Pelco Products and Lowe’s in an effort to renovate the exterior of 20 homes in two different neighborhoods.

The two neighborhoods are Classen-Ten-Penn (NW 16th Street/Classen Boulevard/Pennsylvania Avenue/NW 10th Street) and the southwest OKC neighborhood of College Hill (SW 25th Street/ SW 29th Street/Walker Avenue/ Western Avenue). The neighborhood associations recruited the applicants and helped get donated materials.

They also plan on helping the volunteer youth accomplish their goals.

“We are all excited about this project because it will increase the quality of life for many of our neighbors who otherwise might not be able to afford to have the work done on their house,” said Rosa Tavarez, president of the College Hill Neighborhood Association.

“This is what neighbors do to help one another.”

By the numbers
225,000. That’s the number of meals Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is expected to provide this summer to children who would normally be fed at school. During the summer break, many children who depend on school lunches go hungry.

Say what?
“Kenny, this isn’t coming back,” Mayor Mick Cornett said to City Attorney Kenneth Jordan about a proposed in-home daycare ordinance at last week’s council meeting. The council had been discussing changes for in-home daycare providers that would have required additional standards to be met. However, opposition from daycare providers convinced the city to drop the issue.

“I don’t suspect it will be coming back to us anytime soon, if ever,” Cornett said.

Word to the wise
This week’s word is runoff, as in the likely outcome for some of the races from Tuesday’s primary election. Results were not available at press time, but you can visit okgazette.com and check out Oklahoma Gazette’s special election Storify page for results and reactions.

 
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