Political Representation

Political Representation

Data highlight

Oklahoma ranks 47th out of 51 (including D.C.) for the share of voting-eligible women who voted in the November 2020 election. Washington, D.C., saw the highest percentage with 86.0% (Minnesota led the states with 78.9%). West Virginia ranked last with 56.0% [1].


The share of women who voted in the 2020 November election and are part of the voting population (over 18, a U.S. citizen, and satisfied court-mandated requirements related to a felony if applicable by state) 

0 %
0 %



Political participation and representation go hand-in-hand. The former involves citizens engaging in activities such as voting, attending public meetings, or joining advocacy groups to influence political decisions. The latter refers to individuals, like elected officials, serving as voices for the interests and concerns of their constituents in governmental decision-making processes

Women’s voices and needs are invariably relayed by decision-making men, much like a game of telephone. Whether at the ballot box or on the legislative floor, adequate representation of women by women to tell women’s stories is a nonpartisan idea; it is a tenet of representative democracy.   

Why we care:

Females comprise 50.1% of Oklahoma’s population [2] but are noticeably underrepresented in elected positions. Women’s effect on all levels of government is vital in advancing women’s health. Women know women’s experiences best. 

Interventions implemented from the local to national levels play an outsized role in addressing health outcomes and disparities. Representation can come in various forms, including women holding office and voting in elections. 

Women make up a larger share of registered voters and eligible Oklahomans who vote, a trend reflected nationally. Although voter turnout in Oklahoma increased between 2016 and 2020, the state had the lowest voter turnout in the nation, ranking 51st out of 51 (including D.C.) [1]. 

Experts contend that part of Oklahomans’ apparent voter apathy is due to the perceived lack of competition in races, particularly at the top of the ballot and between the two dominant political parties. After the 2020 election, women comprised 21.5% of the Oklahoma legislature [2]. This number reduced slightly two years later, in 2022, to 20.1% [3]. 

In recent years, women have run for prominent offices, although not always successful. Identifying candidates that reflect and energize voters could excite them to vote. 


Comparing election data can be difficult. Presidential election years yield higher voter turnouts than midterm and off-year elections (during odd-number years). Generally, reports discussing voter-related turnout focus on presidential election years or analyze the two separately. We have chosen to focus our discussion on the last presidential election as of this writing, November 2020. Policy factors such as candidate excitement, incumbency, or state question content will affect voter turnout. Lesser thought-of factors, such as weather or a pandemic, can also play a role. November 2020 elections nationwide were carried out under new pressures, policies, and procedures. In Oklahoma alone, absentee ballot procedures were altered. This context must be kept in mind going forward.  

What we can do

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