For years, we've extolled the virtues of voting, bemoaning the trend of terribly low voter turnouts in both local and statewide elections. In the last midterms, an abysmal 40 percent of registered voters actually cast a ballot for governor.
Tuesday night, those numbers improved considerably.
Proving that Oklahomans didn't expend all of their political energy on the teacher walkout and a very active primary season, almost 60 percent of registered Oklahomans voted, a record 1.185 million of them. In Cleveland County, 30,000 more people voted in the Nov. 6 midterms than did in 2014.
Of course, political engagement doesn't begin and end in the ballot box. With dozens of new legislators heading to the capitol, Oklahomans have the ear of the legislature like never before. It's vitally important voters hold their legislators accountable for the promises they made on the campaign trail.
And while education funding will continue to be a focus, there are several other important issues facing our state, including healthcare access/funding and criminal justice reform. Our legislators need to step up to the plate as well and start providing solutions for issues that have plagued our state for years. There are common sense, practical solutions to these problems (accept Medicaid expansion, for one) that other states have enacted. Oklahoma simply cannot lead the nation in incarceration rates for another year. It's unacceptable.
Moving forward as a state isn't difficult, except when you factor in political realities. Oklahomans have upped their game when it comes to political involvement. It's time for our politicians to keep up.