Congrats, MAPS 4: The Magic of Obscure Election Dates

Dec 11, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

How surprising was it that MAPS 4 in Oklahoma City passed? It was a hard-fought, noisy campaign, with debaters “FOR” and “AGAINST” duking it out in public forums, polls showing a race that was neck-and-neck, hard feelings on both…

Oh wait. Nope. We were thinking of some other election, maybe one that occurred on a date when people were actually engaged and thinking about voting. You know, some date, like we don’t know, in November of an even-numbered year.

The MAPS 4 vote happened yesterday, December 10, in an odd-numbered year, on a date that pretty much said “Hey, really folks, don’t bother. Just leave this to us.” The “us” in a city numbering 650,000 citizens was a total of 44,439, or 6.8% of the population. That’s right, just over one-twentieth of the population has decided that everybody is going to continue paying extra sales tax.

Except that’s overstated. Actually, only 31,865 people voted in favor of MAPS 4. That’s only 5% of the population. But wait, the difference between the “Yes” votes and the “No” votes was 19,291, which means only 3% of Oklahoma City’s citizens determined that everybody else would pay the MAPS 4 tax. The turnout and margin of victory are even worse if you consider the entire Oklahoma City metropolitan area, which numbers some 1.25 million souls.

One might wonder why there was no more effort on the “No” side of the MAPS 4 proposition. The answer is simple. On the “Yes” side is a coalition of motivated individuals anxious to see upgrades at Chesapeake Arena, a new arena at the OKC Fairgrounds, youth centers, bike lanes, that crony “innovation district,” and a host of social projects, some of which include facilities the city will not even fully control.

On the “No” side are people who would like to keep as much of their own earnings as possible, but none of whom see much sense in spending a lot of time and effort fighting an election that will take place only two weeks before Christmas. After all, folks are more interested in shopping, planning vacations, and getting the last of the decorating done.

So, the motivated voters who get a LOT more benefit from MAPS 4 showed up in bigger numbers than those who bear the costs, conveniently spread out over more than just the population of OKC-proper. What a shock. MAPS 4 won.

It’s long past time for the Republican majority in the State Legislature that claims it’s for limited government to stop purposely-engineered election results by those who benefit from big government.

Now to get ready for school board elections that happen in – when is it? – oh yeah, February.

1889 Institute: Advancing public policy ideas to promote the flourishing of all Oklahomans through limited and responsible government, robust civil society, and free enterprise.