- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Latest on Election Day in Oklahoma (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have approved a measure allocating money saved from a reduction in penalties for certain drug and property crimes toward substance abuse and mental health programs.

Question 781 creates the County Community Safety Investment Fund. It requires state financial officials to determine how much money is being saved through reduced penalties for some drug offenses and nonviolent crimes. In turn, the state would direct the estimated savings to the fund.

Fund managers would distribute proceeds to counties based on their population for use in what are being called “Community Rehabilitative Programs” that would offer mental health and substance abuse services.

Under Question 780, voters were asked to reduce the penalties for some crimes in an effort to curb Oklahoma’s prison population. Many inmates are in crumbling and overcrowded facilities.

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9:30 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have approved a ballot measure that will reduce the penalties for some drug possession and property crimes as the state struggles to deal with prison overcrowding.

The passage of Question 780 on Tuesday reduces certain drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and raises the threshold for a felony property crime from $500 to $1,000.

Voters were also deciding a companion measure, Question 781, that would allocate the estimated cost savings from the reduction in criminal penalties to substance abuse and mental health programs. If Question 780 hadn’t passed, Question 781 would be moot.

Many of the state’s more than 27,000 prisoners are held in crumbling and overcrowded facilities. Some legislators, criminal justice experts and business and religious leaders supported the measure. Prosecutors opposed it.

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9:27 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have rejected a penny sales tax increase that would have funded teacher pay raises.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren led the effort to raise the sales tax as a way to address teacher salaries that are among the nation’s lowest. The typical teacher in Oklahoma makes $45,317 a year.

Under Question 779, the tax would have raised about $550 million annually.

A report released last month said that, when adjusted for inflation, Oklahoma’s per-pupil spending had declined 27 percent since 2008. A think-tank that backs lower taxes says that, with the increase, Oklahoma’s state and local sales tax rates would have reached a national-high of 9.82 percent.

Some municipalities opposed the increase, fearing voters will reject future local bond issues if the tax increase passed.

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9:25 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have rejected a proposal that could have led to the return of a Ten Commandments monument to the state Capitol grounds.

The state Supreme Court cited Article 2 of the state constitution last year when it ruled against the placement of a Ten Commandments monument at the statehouse. Article 2 prohibits the use of public funds for religious purposes, and the justices said the monument was religious in nature, not historical.

The ruling enraged conservatives at the Capitol, who voted to put the matter before voters.

However, voters on Tuesday opted to keep the constitution’s language as is.

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9:20 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given special protections to the state’s farmers and ranchers.

Question 777, also known as the right to farm amendment, was voted down on Tuesday. Its supporters said it would protect farms and ranches from those who might want to impose restrictions. As an example, they cited efforts to hold egg-laying hens in cages of a certain size.

But former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson worked with a group that opposed the effort. He said that placing such an amendment in the constitution could prevent future efforts to regulate farm or ranch activity that could harm the environment.

He said that as new chemicals and new farming practices are developed, regulators might not be able to respond.

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8:55 p.m.

Voters have passed an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution meant to safeguard the state’s ability to carry out executions.

In balloting Tuesday, voters approved Question 776, which empowers the Legislature to approve any method of execution not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. It also prohibits death sentences from being reduced due to an execution method being banned and exempts the death penalty from being deemed a cruel or unusual punishment under Oklahoma law.

Two pro-death penalty legislators developed the ballot measure after a pair of botched executions in 2014 and 2015. One inmate struggled against his restraints as he died and the other was given a drug not listed in the state’s execution protocol.

Opponents said the amendment wasn’t necessary because the death penalty is already legal in Oklahoma.

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8:50 p.m.

Oklahoma voters have agreed to update some liquor laws that date to the Prohibition era.

Under Question 792, grocery stores will be able to sell wine and strong beer beginning in 2018. The constitutional amendment approved Tuesday also gives the state permission to sell drinks in state lodges.

Many grocery stores, wineries, breweries and chambers of commerce supported the measure. Liquor store operators warned that hundreds of package stores could close.

The proposal gives liquor stores permission to sell ice and mixers. Still, the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma said its members would be left “in the wilderness” while seeking a way to survive.

Some Oklahoma laws date to Prohibition. One limits beer sales in grocery stores to products with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less.

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8:20 p.m.

Republican Rep. Steve Russell has been elected to a second term, defeating state Sen. Al McAffrey for a second time in a rematch of their 2014 race and completed a Republican sweep of the state’s congressional races.

Two years ago, Russell won 60 percent of the vote against McAffrey, who is Oklahoma’s first openly gay legislator.

During his first term in Congress, Russell decried what he felt was excessive government spending and criticized President Barack Obama as having exhibited “poor leadership” on foreign affairs.

McAffrey won the Democratic nomination over Tom Guild in a runoff that was a repeat of the 2014 primary. Guild trailed McAffrey by 40 votes out of 16,000 cast, but dropped his request for a recount after falling behind by four more votes shortly after the recount began.

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8 p.m.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole has been elected to his eighth House term out of southwestern Oklahoma, defeating Democratic and Libertarian challengers.

The former state senator was first elected to Congress in 2002. On Tuesday, he defeated Democrat Christina Owen and Libertarian Sevier White.

Cole is a Chickasaw, and more than half of the nation’s Chickasaw Indians live in Oklahoma’s Fourth District. He is on the Appropriations, Rules and Budget committees, after initially serving on the Armed Services Committee.

Cole faced two challengers from his own party in June, amid claims he wasn’t conservative enough and that he had served too long. He said he had never voted for a tax increase and that he sought to reduce government spending.

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7:50 p.m.

Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin has won a third House term, defeating Democratic candidate Joshua Harris-Till for the Second District seat representing eastern Oklahoma.

Mulling said four years ago that he would limit himself to three terms in Washington. But after this year’s primary, he said that while he hadn’t changed his mind, he and his wife would pray about whether he should remain in office longer.

Mullin has served on the Energy and Commerce Committee and touted his work on a bill to limit the effect of a “Clean Power Plan” put forth by the Obama administration. He said he feared higher electricity prices.

Harris-Till was formerly an aide to Dan Boren, who held the congressional seat prior to Mullin. He wanted to work on immigration reform.

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7:40 p.m.

Republican Rep. Frank Lucas, of northwestern Oklahoma, has won re-election to a 12th term in the House.

The incumbent defeated Democrat Frankie Robbins on Tuesday for a seat that represents 32 counties from the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas to the far end of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Lucas has served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and as a member of the Science Space and Technology panel that worked on legislation to improve weather forecasting.

The farmer and rancher won a special election for the seat in 1994. Since then, he had won at least 59 percent of the vote in each of his re-election bids, entering Tuesday’s race. He won 82 percent of the vote in 2004.

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7 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump has won Oklahoma’s seven electoral votes, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in a state that pundits dubbed “the reddest of the red” after President Barack Obama failed to win a single county in either of his presidential elections.

Polling stations closed at 7 p.m., but anyone still waiting on line can still vote.

Oklahoma has shifted sharply to the right over the past decade, with Republicans now controlling all statewide offices, all seats in Congress and both chambers of the state Legislature.

The most recent Democratic presidential candidates to win Oklahoma were Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Harry Truman in 1948.

5:45 p.m.

Oklahoma election officials say nearly 12 percent of the state’s 2.1 million registered voters cast ballots early this year, either by mail or in-person, easily surpassing the previous record.

As of early Tuesday evening, Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean says more than 256,775 ballots were cast early this year, shattering the old record of about 188,000 in 2008.

Dean says about 103,000 absentee ballots had been received in the mail by 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, less than two hours before the 7 p.m. deadline. That bests the previous mark of 74,000 mailed absentee ballots in 2008.

Also, Dean says about 153,354 voters cast ballots during three days of early in-person voting last week, significantly more than the 114,000 in 2008.

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3:30 p.m.

Public school teachers across Oklahoma are anxiously awaiting the results of a proposed sales tax for education designed to boost their pay and stem the flow of educators to neighboring states and other professions.

The 1 percent sales tax hike on Tuesday’s ballot is the result of successful signature drive earlier this year. It is among the most hotly contested of seven proposed state questions that voters will decide.

Public education in Oklahoma has borne the brunt of shrinking state revenues amid slumping oil and natural gas prices, growing tax subsidies and a gradual reduction in the state’s income tax rate over the last decade.

A report released last week shows Oklahoma’s per-pupil funding level for public schools has declined nearly 27 percent since 2008, when adjusted for inflation.

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12 p.m.

Long lines were seen at polling places in Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Fort Gibson as voters turned out for the 2016 general election in Oklahoma.

Terri Hill in Broken Arrow said she voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president because of her foreign policy experience and she believes Republican Donald Trump is too unhinged to become president while Craig Bernheimer in Tulsa said he voted for Trump because of his business background and questions surrounding Clinton, such as investigations into her emails.

Meanwhile, Pat Shaddox in Tulsa said he voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in protest of both Clinton and Trump, calling both major party candidates “evil.”

Oklahoma hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And in the past two elections, President Barack Obama failed to win a single one of the state’s 77 counties.

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8:50 a.m.

Long lines were reported at Oklahoma polling locations as the polls opened for the 2016 general election.

Voting locations opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday after more than 152,000 people voted early and avoided the wait on election day.

Warehouse manager Shane Poindexter said he’s a registered Democrat and voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because of concerns about Republican Donald Trump’s temperament.

The 40-year-old Poindexter called his vote “the lesser of evils.”

Retired Air Force veteran Ron Flowers said being a former member of the military, there is no way he’d vote for Clinton and that he voted for Trump “because of his bluntness.”

The polls are open until 7 p.m.

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7 a.m.

Polls have opened across Oklahoma for the 2016 general election.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will remain open until 7 p.m.

The Oklahoma Election Board doesn’t offer predictions about how many of the state’s 2.1 million voters are expected to cast ballots, but say a record of more than 152,000 people voted early to surpass the previous high of about 114,000 set in 2008.

The ballot includes the presidential race, a U.S. Senate race and four U.S. House races. One incumbent congressman is unopposed.

Voters will also decide seven ballot measures, including ones to raise the state sales tax by 1 percent to fund teacher raises, one meant to safeguard the state’s ability to execute prisoners and one that would remove a constitutional prohibition against using state funds for religious purposes.

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12:25 a.m.

Oklahoma hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and it’s not expected to do so this year, either.

Republican Donald Trump is widely expected to take the conservative state’s seven electoral votes on Tuesday. Not one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties voted for Barack Obama in either of his presidential campaigns, and Democrat Hillary Clinton isn’t expected to fare well in the state, either.

The Oklahoma Election Board doesn’t offer predictions about how many of the state’s 2.1 million voters are expected to cast ballots, but early-voting was busy this year.

Among the ballot measures to be decided are ones that would raise the state sales tax by 1 percent to fund teacher raises and one meant to safeguard the state’s ability to execute prisoners.


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