Law & Principles

How Oklahoma’s presidential votes officially count

March 20, 2024

Rick Farmer, Ph.D.

Choosing the President of the United States is not as simple as voters going to the polls and holding an inauguration. In fact, it is a series of events that take place over several months. These include party primaries, conventions, and the general election. Each state and its parties have their own way of conducting these activities. Because the rules are different across the country, it is better described as a process than as a system. Oklahoma’s 2024 process looks like this.

Primary Voting

Both Republican and Democratic delegates to the respective national conventions are pledged to the winners of the presidential preference primaries. By state law, the delegates must vote at the convention for the primary winner, until that candidate withdraws from the race. Candidates filed with the State Election Board to have their names placed on the ballot. Oklahoma voters cast their ballots on March 5. Donald Trump and Joe Biden won their respective primaries and all of the pledged Oklahoma delegates to their national conventions.

District Convention Delegate Selection

Although the delegate votes are pledged to a presidential candidate by the primary, the people who attend the national conventions are not selected until later at congressional district and state conventions. Both Republicans and Democrats in Oklahoma hold a convention in each of the five congressional districts. Three delegates and three alternates are chosen at each GOP district convention. The number varies between four and six at each Democratic district convention. These delegates attend their respective national conventions for the purpose of casting the state’s pledged votes and helping select the party’s nominee for President.

State Party Delegate Selection

Both parties hold a state convention where more national convention delegates are selected. These delegates are also required by law to vote for the candidate who won the primary. The Oklahoma GOP meets on May 4 to elect 25 delegates and 25 alternates. The State Central Committee interviews applicants and assembles a recommended slate. The convention is likely to accept the slate as the official delegate list. Three state party officials serve as ex officio delegates, for a total of 43 Oklahoma GOP pledged delegates to the Republican National Convention. Democrats will select 8 delegates on April 6 at their state convention. Oklahoma Democrats will send a total of 41 district delegates, state convention delegates, and superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention. Thirty-six are pledged; five are unpledged.

National Conventions Confer Presidential Nominations

Republicans meet July 15-18 in Milwaukee to officially nominate their presidential candidate. Democrats will meet August 19-22 in Chicago to nominate their presidential candidate. Oklahoma’s delegate votes are pledged to the Oklahoma presidential preference primary winners, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, unless one of them drops out. Of course, both have secured enough pledged delegates nationwide to win their respective nominations.

General Election Voting

On November 5, voters across the country will go to the polls to pick the next President. The U.S. Constitution says that “Each state shall appoint … electors.” The election is not won by winning the national popular vote. The election is won by winning the popular vote in enough individual states for the number of pledged electors to add up to 270. The total number of electors is equal to the number of Representatives and Senators in each state. Oklahoma has five Representatives. Every state has two Senators. So, Oklahoma has seven electors. The party that wins the plurality of the vote in Oklahoma wins all seven electors. The party that wins half of the 538 total electors across the country wins the presidency.

District Convention Elector Selection

The same district conventions that select delegates to the national conventions also nominate one elector each. District convention elector nominees become part of the state party’s slate of electors on November 5.

State Convention Elector Selection

The same state conventions that select delegates to the national conventions also nominate two electors each. State convention elector nominees also become part of the state party’s slate of electors on November 5.

Winning the Election

The official electors will be chosen by the voters on November 5. Either the Republican slate of nominees or the Democratic slate of nominees will be elected. Of course, Oklahoma voters are very likely to choose the Republican slate. The electors, chosen by the voters, will meet in the Governor’s office on December 17. They will cast Oklahoma’s official votes for President and Vice President. When those votes are opened and counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2025, the presidential winner will be officially declared. 

While this is the official process, the winner is likely to become obvious as votes are being counted on November 5. By late evening, one candidate is likely to have won enough votes in enough states to become the projected winner. In a really close election, the result might change as more votes get counted. But if the voting trends hold until every vote is counted, the projected winner will become the official winner. The inauguration is on January 20, 2025.