After a frantic eight weeks of campaigning leading up to the June 11 nonpartisan mayoral election, now comes the dead of summer and the long, seemingly endless march to the Nov. 12 general election between former Mayor Kathy Taylor and incumbent Dewey Bartlett. Why, one might wonder, is there five months between the primary and the general election? Or, worse yet, seven months between the April filing period and the November general election. And then there is this possibility: If one mayoral candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, that candidate becomes mayor but doesn’t take office until the first week of December. How did this happen?
The answer is fairly pedestrian: Under the city’s new nonpartisan election system, there are potentially three elections – a nonpartisan primary, a runoff, if needed, and the general election – compared to two under the previous system.
That’s significant because the city must notify the Tulsa County Election Board of an election at least 60 days before the date of the election and 75 days before if a state or federal election is to be held on the same day.
Election dates are separated by 60 or 75 days to comply with a 2009 federal law – subsequently adopted by the state Legislature for state elections – that requires absentee ballots be sent to military and overseas voters no later than 45 days before an election.