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Independents Vote in Oklahoma's Democratic Presidential Primary - KOAM TV 7

Independents Vote in Oklahoma's Democratic Presidential Primary

Updated:
OTTAWA COUNTY, OK -

For the first time independents in the Sooner State like Mike Slyman can vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

Slyman says "It probably could affect things. I'm not sure how many independents will actually turn out to the vote in the Democratic Primary because a lot of people until I got here today I didn't know I could."

NEO A & M Social Sciences Department Chair Jeff Birdsong says the change was made to get more independent voters to cross over and vote democrat for the first time.

Birdsong says "The belief is based on other studies and other states where this has happened, that people who vote as independent will then vote for the democrat candidate in the general election."

It could also make Oklahoma a tougher state for Hillary to win. 

Senator Bernie Sanders said in front of nearly ten thousand in Tulsa last week “I look out at this crowd, I don't think there's any way we're going to lose on Tuesday."

Birdsong says "Well in some ways Bernie Sanders has built it up through some of his statements saying he will win the state of Oklahoma. I've seen one poll where he's ahead by 5%. I've seen another where Hillary Clinton is ahead by 9%."

While some experts say the change could help more polarizing candidates like Bernie Sanders, others say they don't think it'll make much of a difference.

Ottawa County Election Board Secretary Verna Ferris says “Even though the democrats have allowed the independents to vote a democrat ballot I don't see that it is going to make a major change in the state of Oklahoma."

Some opponents of the primary change worry about independent voters like Slyman who will take advantage of the system.

He says "I’m not voting for the one I want. I'm voting for the one I don't want."

In Ottawa County there are just over 2,000 registered independents. As of January 15th there were more than 266,000independents registered throughout the state. According to the State Election Board it is the fastest growing segment of the state's electorate.

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