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Thousands of Oklahomans switch political party affiliation

State Election Board officials have released numbers this week showing the amount of Oklahomans who have switched their political party affiliation in the last six months.

The office started processing the requests on September 1, the day the blackout period ended. Oklahomans could not switch party affiliation from April 1 through August 31.

More than 19,000 Oklahomans made the switch with the majority moving to the Republican party. More than 9,000 Democrats and around 3,500 Independents switched to Republican.

State election officials said that’s continuing a trend they’ve been seeing in our state.

"We've seen a trend over a number of decades of growth of Independent voters and Republican voters and a decline of the percentage of voters registered as Democrats. So, that in and of itself is not surprising,” said State Election Board Secretary Paul Xiriax.

Xiriax said it wasn’t that long ago, only about five years, the Democratic party was the largest in the state and, historically, it has been.

"The curent percentages are about 47 percent Republicans, about 37 percent Democrats and then the remainder are Independents and Libertarians,” Xiriax said.

In our state, you have to be registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary.

Xiriax said he doesn’t know if that’s contributed to the amount of people switching to Republican but they did get lots of complaints about that this year.

"If you look at say the complaints from people that are calling our office on election day, a lot of them were from people who were not registered Republicans but wanted to vote in the Republican primary because I think they had more television ads, it was perceived as being more hotly contested,” he said.

One switch that has a lot of people upset, though, is Becki Maldonado. She is running for state senate in District 16 as a Republican.

But, it just recently came to light Maldonado changed her party affiliation to Democrat back in April during the teacher walkout.

"They were very disrespectful to me even after I identified myself as, 'Hey, I'm a Republican, what's up, guys,' and they were still extremely disrespectful,” she said.

A teacher herself, Maldonado switched parties but never let the people in her district know. When she received her new voter registration card, she immediately switched back to Republican.

"There's been a lot of mistrust of politicians and politicians doing really bad things to the people of Oklahoma. And, that is not what I'm trying to represent. And, so, I apologize for that if that's how I came off,” she said.

It is now easier than ever to switch party affiliation. You can now do that online as well as update your address.

It’s the first phase of Oklahoma switching over to online voter registration.

State officials said, overall, registration is up and they expect that to continue until the October 12 deadline to register before the November elections.