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Oklahoma Engaged

Oklahoma Engaged is a multi-platform project focused on election coverage. As a public service journalism collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS, KCCU, and StateImpact Oklahoma, the reporting includes community stories, audio reports, snapshots, state question breakdowns, profiles, videos, and more. Major support is provided by the Inasmuch Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, and Oklahoma Humanities.

Ways to Connect

Ryan LaCroix / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Just over a year ago—under the dark of night—a Ten Commandments monument was removed from the state Capitol grounds.

State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Tulsa, paid for it. Gov. Mary Fallin supported it. But its placement prompted a public debate—and ultimately a lawsuit—that forced its removal.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled it had to come down and based their decision on a section of the Oklahoma Constitution—Article 2, Section 5—that says public money and property may not be used to benefit religion.

People gather for the Fiesta de las Americas in Oklahoma City on Oct. 1, 2016.
Josh Robinson / Oklahoma Engaged

 

Pete White drives slowly through his old neighborhood in south Oklahoma City. The 78-year-old Oklahoma City councilman has lived in the area his entire life.

 

“This is the house I grew up in right here,” White said as he drove through a tree lined neighborhood of modest homes.

 

Carla Quillen, a proponent of SQ 780/781 stands outside her office on Aug. 30, 2016
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma’s prisons are crowded, and the state continues to incarcerate offenders at the second- highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Two state questions on the November 8 ballot aim to ease both of those strains.  

Video Breakdown: State Question 779

Oct 17, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

Attendees listen as former Missouri state senator Wes Shoemyer speaks against Amendment 1 at the Missouri’s Food for America sign-making event at Café Berlin Friday, June 27, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.
KOMUNews / Flickr

Oklahoma could become the third state to add a “right-to-farm” amendment to its constitution if voters approve State Question 777 this November. Voters in North Dakota and Missouri already adopted such a measure, but, the effects remain unclear there, even years after passage. 

Oklahoma Engaged: A Preview Of Capitol Hill

Oct 12, 2016
Josh Robinson / Oklahoma Engaged

For weeks now, KGOU and KOSU have been unveiling stories on voter participation and the Oklahoma ballot in advance of the November 8 election.

The collaborative project, Oklahoma Engaged, examines and explains ballot measures and key political races with an emphasis on voter apathy, changing demographics and other factors impacting voter turnout.

empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma teachers haven’t received a statewide pay raise in eight years. But this November, voters will have a chance to boost teacher pay if they approve State Question 779.

It would fund the raises through a one percent sales tax. Education advocates say this could prevent teachers from fleeing the state, or the profession for better paying jobs. But opponents argue the proposal would create an entirely different set of problems.

Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma's execution practices were under the national spotlight when the 2015 legislative session began. A few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail, Oklahoma state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 31.  

Dep. Sheriff Red Edgman, Dep. Sheriff Dave Harlan, Sheriff Orin Johnston and Henry Troup break up a still near Purcell, Oklahoma in 1933.
Purman Wilson Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society

 

Oklahomans are considering some of the biggest changes to the state’s liquor laws since the end of prohibition. If approved, State Question 792 would amend the state constitution and alter a system with roots planted during the days of Indian Territory.

Wine bottles in The Spirit Shop in Norman.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

“There he is!” Bryan Kerr said with a laugh, as he greeted a customer at his liquor store in Moore. ”You’re always showing up at exactly the right time.”

The customer navigated through rows of bottles at Moore Liquor, while Kerr slipped outside. He took a few steps to an adjoining storefront to another business he owns: Party Moore.

“A lot of people mistake it for like a Party Galaxy or Party City. It is not that,” Kerr said as he cracked open the store’s door. “It is a party store that is exclusively built for parties that have alcohol in them.”

Two dancers practice in an empty lot next to their International Dance Studio (IDance) in Capitol Hill.
Josh Robinson / Oklahoma Engaged

43 states had a higher voter turnout than Oklahoma in the last presidential election in 2012. We wanted to know more about why the state’s voter turnout is so low.

With support from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, KGOU and KOSU are collaborating on a series called Oklahoma Engaged. In the first of several stories, we focus on the state’s changing electorate.

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