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North vs. South and the 2014 Election: Precinct Disparity, Turnout Disparity, Social Determinants of Civic Engagement Disparity

Civic Engagement Group
North Tulsa Development Council Leadership Class Project
Ron Robinson Initial Report on 2014 November General Election Voting in North Tulsa compared with some other areas of Tulsa.

Here I I have finished the Voting Data analysis, at least from current data, from the recent election for our own A Third Place Foundation renewal work on the north side and as input for my Leadership Tulsa project on Civic Engagement and North Tulsa, adding in the registration figures and the percentage turnout disparities between North Tulsa and South Tulsa. This is an update to a facebook post I made back in November with preliminary data.

This also looks at the way the concentration of the number of precincts in a given zipcode on the southside might also affect the ease of voting compared to zipcodes on the northside with fewer precincts located in them; the 74126 for example has five precincts serving all or part of it, compared to 15 precincts serving the 74133 on the south side of Tulsa. Turnout disparities range from my own precinct on the northside (Lighthouse School) that had a 20 percent turnout compared with 50 percent turnout for the precinct in Brookside that votes at All Souls Church. It will also look at the apparent affect of lack of social determinants and how that might affect civic engagement the same way it affects health outcomes for individuals and neighborhoods.

Intro: Simply looking at the numbers of votes cast, the turnout percentages by precinct, and looking at the dispersement of the precincts themselves begins to reveal disparities of voice, votes, and difficulty in getting to the precinct polling places….Also, I am using the lens of the vote for Governor, which was the election on the ballot with the greatest number of votes cast….And I haven't looked through the lens of east or west Tulsa yet here either in comparison with South Tulsa; hope others who live there can do so. One of my models was a voter turnout analysis that was done by  I believe professor Gary Allison at the University of Tulsa Law School after, I believe, the 2008 election. I am not sure I have that report easy to find again, but I might contact him for a copy or see if someone on facebook has it still. Finally, I initially prepared the report as an analysis for community needs in the far north area served by the Foundation I serve as Executive Director, so it still contains that focus though I have broadened it out here to cover all of North Tulsa.)

Quick Headline from near the end of this preliminary analysis: Even before looking at numbers of registered and actual voters, we can highlight that we have seven precincts serving all or parts of four zip codes in our far north area with lowest life expectancy and lowest income, and one of the highest percentage of African Americans in Tulsa; contrast that with one zip code in midtown south Tulsa  74114, with the highest life expectancy and highest income, which has the lowest percentage of blacks and Hispanics, which has itself 8 precincts, and compare that with another zipcode in south Tulsa, the most populous, the 74133, which has 15 precincts within its boundaries, more than double the number in all of the far north area. 

Why is this significant? Especially with poorly funded public transportation, with work hours on election days and difficulty getting time off to vote, and with the difficulty and cost to arrange to go to early voting days and to go to the trouble to do absentee ballots (fewer post offices, for example), all of this makes it much easier for people to get to polling places when there are more of them grouped much closer to the people geographically, when you don’t have to travel as far to get to a polling place. (One of our precincts again has no polling place in its precinct, but residents must go to another precinct next to it to vote; its percentage of turnout remains on par with others on the northside, but that still means it might have had higher turnout with a polling place within its own boundaries).

As the northside zipcodes are also the ones with the highest percentages of people with illnesses, with food insecurities and hunger, and this adds to the necessity to make it as equitable as possible to have access to voting. In other words there is a privileging in some zipcodes which makes it easier to have a higher turnout, which gains them more power.  In addition, just as the major factors in a person’s health and life expectancy come from social determinants of health and not from actual physician clinic time factors, so the social capital of a zipcode will affect its voter registration and turnout; how many civic groups, school parent groups, active neighborhood groups, the strength of faith communities, parks and community centers, businesses where people can meet, etc all lend resources and connections and support to voting as they do to other forms of civic engagement. We will also look below at the role of the felony convictions and percentages of people with those and where they might be concentrated and how that can affect voting, as well, in certain areas (see the studies and recent books on the rising mass incarceration among minority populations in particular, and among the poor in general).

Also why geography alone counts: Where someone lives matters; which neighborhoods have a voice matters; there are issues and needs in some neighborhoods that are not present in all, or other neighborhoods. So, sheer numbers translate into votes on citywide priorities; when there is the kind of turnout gap between north and south Tulsa, as well, it will likely affect the time politicians spend in the areas campaigning, and where they focus their resources afterwards.  

Here we go: Far North Focus
This first section is for my Foundation in particular and Far North Tulsa. If you want you can jump down to the overall North Tulsa statistics.
Let’s start with our four Turley area community and area residential area precincts: We start with simple voter turnout; below we will contrast it with percentages of registered voters.

In those four precincts there were 664 total votes cast in the November, 2014 election. Of these four precincts, two are completely in the unincorporated area and two overlap between city and county sides. My interests lay mainly in the total number of votes cast, rather than who they were cast for, but for information sake as political parties play an important role in voter information and turnout and precincts, I will include the election results for this area.

In the two precincts wholly in the unincorporated area the total vote was 333; in those two precincts Dorman, the Democrat, won one precinct 97-73 in voting at Turley Assembly of God; the other Fallin, the Republican, won 75-68 in voting at O’Brien Park; this precinct (551, voting at O’Brien Park) by the way has to vote outside its own precinct boundaries; there is no polling place anymore located in its boundaries; its residents must go within another precinct boundary to vote, a geographic hardship if you are poor; also there was no early voting or no absentee ballots from this precinct (might look at differences in poverty levels relative to areas with high to low early voting and use of absentee ballots). Of those two unincorporated area precincts then Dorman received 165 and Fallin received 148.

Next, Adding in the the two precincts serving both the unincorporated Turley residential areas as well as the city residential areas: there were 331 total votes. In those Dorman won both; at one, voting at The Lighthouse Charter School, Dorman won 81 to Fallin 12; in the other, Gethsamane Baptist, Dorman won 212 to Fallin 18; adding up the total votes in these two precincts that overlap Turley community and city of Tulsa area, Dorman won receiving 293 to Fallin’s 30 (two other candidates receiving the few other votes). For example, my own precinct is the one that votes at The Lighthouse; I live a few blocks outside of the city of Tulsa limits but my precinct covers this area on the county side and the subdivisons like Northgate in the city of Tulsa.

Now we look at the Other precincts in our two mile service area, but which also include areas of population beyond our service boundaries:
At Suburban Acres Library, 440 total votes with Dorman receiving 411, Fallin 23, 5 and 1 for others.
At Traice Academy, the old Lindsey School in Lakeview addition but extending west into our area, 423 Total votes; Dorman with 375 and Fallin with 37 and 8 and 3.
At Tulsa Tech at 38th and N. Peoria, but extending north into our service area north of 46th: 509 total votes, with Dorman 479 with Fallin 25 and 4 and 1 to others.
Adding these three other precincts serving areas within our service area: 1,372 total votes. Dorman received 1265 to Fallin 85. 

So, adding all of the 7 precincts that cover residences within our two mile service area: total votes of 2,036. Of this amount, Dorman received 1,723 to Fallin’s 263. Or, Dorman won with 84.6 percent of the vote with Fallin receiving 12.9 percent of the vote. This compares to Tulsa County Total: 131,649 total votes of which Dorman received 40.3 percent losing to Fallin’s 56.9 percent. And compared to Oklahoma total: 824,831 total votes; Dorman received 41 percent losing to Fallin’s 55.8 percent. (One might factor in, however, being on the losing end of elections and being “outsiders” in the political power structure on the county and state level, then, as one of the mitigating factors to “being heard”.)
Our 7 precinct turnout (in sheer numbers, not with registered voters factored in, and not with percentage of population or elgible to register voters factored in) then was 0.015 percent of the total Tulsa County vote or one and a half percent; and 0.002 percent or two-tenths of one percent of the total vote in Oklahoma. But Let’s look at geographic conditions. These seven precincts serving our area cover basically a four mile stretch from 36th to 76th St. We will see that among many factors, geography plays a part in voter turnout; the higher voter turnout precincts are in precincts with smaller geographic areas making it easier and less expensive to get to the polls. 

More Broadly North Tulsa Statistics:

Next, beyond these seven precincts serving far north city of Tulsa, there are another 21 precincts in all of North Tulsa for a total of 28 precincts for North Tulsa compared to 177 for Tulsa (not counting the ones covering other cities and areas in Tulsa County as a whole, but just concentrated in the city limits basically). That gives North Tulsa some 16 percent of the total number of precincts for the approximate whole city area; or the other three geographic sides of the city have 84 percent of the voting precincts. 

Our 7 precincts cover the geographic area of all or some of four zip codes, and these zip codes have some of the lowest life expectancy and lowest income in the area; contrast that with one zip code in midtown south Tulsa, with the highest life expectancy and income, 74114, which has eight precinct locations alone, and anogther zipcode in south Tulsa with 15 precincts alone.

The turnout in our total 7 precincts in our service boundaries, amounting to 2036, compares to the eight precincts in the one zip code, 74114, which had a turnout of 5,379 votes cast.
So, the one zip code south had more than a two to one voting advantage over the all or part of four zip codes north. One precinct total in the 74114 was itself almost 63 percent of what the total number of votes cast totalled in all of the 7 precincts in our area. 
Overall North Tulsa area, mostly incorporated city of Tulsa but includes some unincorporated adjacent to Tulsa City: A Total of 30,197 registered voters.

Of that amount, In our immediate four precinct area: 586 registered (186 voted) at Assembly of God Turley 31.7 percent; 931 (236 voted) at Gethsamane Baptist 25.3 percent; 457 (95 voted) at Lighthouse 20.7 percent (my precinct had the lowest turnout percentage); 535 (147 voted) at Obrien Park 27.4 percent (even though they have to leave their precinct boundary to vote, the turnout for this precinct is roughly on par with the other neighboring precincts, but location could still be a factor in how many might have voted.).
Total of 2509 registered in all four precincts. In November 636 voted in these four precincts: roughly 25 percent.
Include the other three North Tulsa precincts serving residential areas in our service area:
Suburban Acres Library 1830 (440 voted) 24 percent; Traice Academy 1606 (423) 26.3 percent; Tulsa Tech 2141 (509) 23.7 percent for Total 5577 registered (1372} 24.6 percent

Total for all 7 precincts in which some or all residents live whom we serve in far north Tulsa: 8086 registered (2,036 voted) for 25.1 percent (roughly one in four persons who were eligible to vote did so)
Remainder of North Tulsa: 22,111 registered voters in remaining precincts and of those 6,163 voted, or 27.8 percent.
Total for North Tulsa precincts: 30197 total registered and 8199 voted, or 27.1 percent.

Comparing with some Southside Precincts:
Next, we do a comparison to southside precincts. For now let’s do a comparison with our one highlighted southside precincts in the selected 74114 zipcode, zip with the highest life expectancy in the metro area; remember it has more precincts just within its one zipcode (8) than all of the precincts in our service area (7) which covers all or part of four zipcode areas). Geographical density adds to ease of voter access and to voter turnout; it is only one of the factors of course, but is important. Actually another southside zipcode, the most populous, the 74133 zip in south Tulsa, has 15 precincts. The 74114 zipcode is also the least black and least Hispanic zipcode in the city of Tulsa area, on par with zipcodes in the suburban areas of Tulsa County. The 74133 is only slightly more black and Hispanic.
In the 74114:  Precinct 720062,  2151 registered 1057 voted 49.1 percent turnout; 0065  with 1429 registered 719 voted 50.3 percent, one in two potential voters turned out; 0071  had 2674 registered 1281 voted 47.9 percent; 0075:  895 registered 362 voted 40.4 percent; 0076, 1237 registered 526 voted 42.5; 77, 1336 registered 621 voted 46.4; 0079, 1568 registered 615 voted 39.2; 0085, 525 registered 198 voted 37.7 percent.

Total for the 74114 zipcode 11,815 registered 5379 voted, or 45.5 percent (20 percent higher turnout than from our far north precinct turnout, and 18.4 percent more than the total North Tulsa).

It may be useful to look at some comparisons based on possible ethnicity data, even within the general geographic areas of Tulsa. For example, within North Tulsa, the highest concentrations of black population is in the 74126 and 74106 zip codes. We have the data for the 74126 outlined above:
it covers the precincts at Turley Assembly of God, Gethsamane Baptist, Suburban Acres Library, The Lighthouse School, and at O’Brien Park (where residents of the 74126 go to vote in a neighboring zipcode location). 4,339 registered voters in 74126 and 1,076 voted, for 24.7 percent
which is a few percentage points lower than the total North Tulsa voting percentage, but in the 74106, there are 9,299 registered voters and 2,544 of them voted, or 27.3 percent, which is just slightly higher than the total North Tulsa voting percentage; putting the two zipcodes together results in a 26.5 percent voter turnout. Also to note is that the 74106 has six precincts within it, two less than the 74114 but one more than the 74126.

By the way, That most populous zipcode, the 74133 in south Tulsa, with 15 precincts alone, accounts for 20,505 registered voters; in the latest election, 7,760 voted, for 37.8 percent.

More Data Needed For Further Analysis on Why there is the Voting Turnout Disparity:

Next needed data would compare the total number of registered voters in North Tulsa precincts with the number of adults 18 years and older, i.e. potential registrants, to get a percentage comparison between zipcodes in Tulsa. And then we need to factor in percent of persons with felonies living in the precincts/zipcodes who are not eligible to vote (bearing in mind that felony convictions alone do not prevent voting in Oklahoma; only if the time of the original sentence has not lapsed.)  And again it would be good for a followup looking at eastside and westside precincts.