MAPS 4 Voter Turnout Lowest in MAPS History

I read an article out of the Oklahoma City Free Press that left me utterly confused as to why our Mayor and so many other people are enthusiastic over the results of a vote in which only 13.5% of voters cast a ballot.

In the Free Press article, Brett Dickerson does a great job of using a list provided by Mayor Holt to compare and contrast the total number of voters who showed up for MAPS 4 to past sales tax votes in Oklahoma City:

“Sales tax vote turn out numbers over the last half-century... show that over the course of 16 votes, as high as 70,000 voters have turned out all the way down to 25,000. Most turnouts have been similar to Tuesday’s hovering between 40,000 and 50,000. “

So, in the general category of “sales tax” votes in Oklahoma City, this MAPS vote is pretty much on par with past sales tax votes.

But how about we narrow the scope a little?

We can lump MAPS into other municipal sales tax votes all we want, but Dickerson, the Mayor, and anyone who has lived in Oklahoma City for the past twenty-six years can attest that the MAPS ballot possesses its own unique culture discernably different from the other twelve sales tax votes.

So, how does the MAPS 4 voter turnout rank amongst previous MAPS votes?

Answer: REALLY BAD. (Like the worst.)

Politicians Fluff, But Numbers Don’t Lie.

Here is a list of all four MAPS votes and their respective vote totals:

MAPS - 61,129 total voters

MAPS for Kids - 60,855 total voters

MAPS 3 - 75,421 total voters

MAPS 4 - 44,439 total voters

Now, let’s arrange them from top to bottom in order of the highest number of voters to the lowest number of voters:

MAPS 3 - 75,421 total voters

MAPS - 61,129 total voters

MAPS for Kids - 60,855 total voters

MAPS 4 - 44,439 total voters

So, although MAPS 4's sum of voters is similar to past general sales tax votes in Oklahoma City, it is far from the norm with MAPS-specific votes. As you could’ve derived from the title of this article, the total number of voters who turned out for MAPS 4 wasn’t just low, it was the lowest in MAPS history.

If you were to disregard 16,000 votes from the MAPS for Kids vote in 2001, the previously lowest MAPS voter turnout would still report more total votes than the MAPS 4 vote.

From MAPS 3 to MAPS 4, the total number of voters declined by an astonishing 41%. When you compare the MAPS 4 vote with all the previous MAPS votes, you’ll find that the total amount of voters who showed up for MAPS 4 was 25% lower than the average MAPS voter count. (And 32% lower than just the past three votes.)

So, it would seem that two landslides occurred on December 10. One a ballot initiative victory, the other a loss for democracy.

Added Note: Every MAPS vote has occurred in a non-major election year, so don’t bother with using that excuse.

The SoundCloud Rapper Effect

So, why were so many citizens of OKC so unenthused to participate in the MAPS 4 vote? I have my own “theory,” but before I dig into an awesome, self-deprecating metaphor of the Mayor of Oklahoma City, I want to preface that I do not believe Mayor Holt is solely responsible for the drastic decline in the MAPS voter participation.

I also didn’t reach out for comment from him or his team, because unlike the “Love Your OKC” campaign team, no one is paying me dark money (or any money for that matter) to write this shit.

Now, back to the SoundCloud Rapper Effect.

To those unfamiliar with SoundCloud, it is a free music-streaming service that makes it easy for independent musicians to upload their music and make it readily accessible to the rest of the world.

Although the platform has helped artists such as Post Malone and Chance the Rapper gain momentum in the music industry, SoundCloud catches a lot of flack for the high volume of subpar rappers and artists they allow to upload music. (In fact, this article is written by one. *selfishly plugs music*)

So, what do subpar rappers like myself have to do with Mayor Holt?

Well, much like the Mayor is able to excite and engage online audiences, many rappers on SoundCloud, subpar or not, are able to generate large sums of streams through the online platform.

However, when it comes time to throw a show in the real world, the millions of streams an artist generates on SoundCloud, Spotify, and other streaming platforms typically converts to like ten fans, two friends from high school, and a cousin who only showed up because the rapper owed them money.

Much like a local musician, Mayor Holt is great at using his Twitter and other social media platforms to get the online OKC community excited about Costcos and concerts, but when it comes to engaging the citizens of OKC to show up and vote for a once-in-a-decade ballot, the Mayor is about as successful as Lil Drippy is at packing out The Criterion. (And yes, Lil Drippy is my new rap alias, now.)

But, a win is a win.

If the dark-money donors are happy with the results, then I’m sure our Mayor isn’t too upset with how the MAPS 4 vote (hardly) turned out.

We Were Not Entertained.

Unsurprisingly, the citizens of Oklahoma City were not entertained by the thought of voting for entertainment venues.

Usually, right around here is where I would show up with a cool, quippy summary of all the dope data I just dropped on everyone’s heads, but I have a confession to make.

Although I have participated in multiple elections in my short period of voter eligibility, I didn't vote on the MAPS 4 ballot.

I like 86.5% of Oklahoma City didn't vote for MAPS 4. I should have, but I didn't and I truly regret not fulfilling my duty as a citizen. Even if it wouldn't have tipped the scale, I should have put my opinion on the ballot. Voting is a privilege that many people in OKC don’t have. Not everyone can take off from work on a Tuesday to make their voice heard, and many people are kept from voting due to a criminal record.

But I could have, I didn’t, and there’s no excuse for it.

But at least it’s on the record.

And while I’m here, let me further the record. My vote does not determine whether I am able to speak on or participate in local affairs. If that were the case, almost 90% of citizens in OKC would never be allowed to talk about MAPS, or many other subjects for that matter. (Thank God that’s not how democracy works.)

They say voting is the best way to make your voice heard in the political sphere. But what speaks louder than almost 9 out of every 10 eligible voters in Oklahoma City not participating in a ballot that comes around only once every decade? I would argue that projects a message more boisterously than any single vote could ever achieve.

Finally, if anyone thinks I should not be allowed to speak my mind on politics in Oklahoma City because I didn’t participate in one MAPS vote, then come talk to me in person. Just make sure you have my tax money with you when you show up.