Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lottery Should Draw More Than 500,000 Voters

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lottery Should Draw More Than 500,000 Voters

Article excerpt

Campaigns for and against a state lottery are expected to pick up dramatically in the next few weeks, assuring at least 500,000 voters will go to the polls on May 10, officials say.

So far, the campaign has been somewhat lackluster, but activity will be intensifying as the election nears.

A spokesman for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma says church leaders are opposing the lottery plan, and pastors can be expected to take to the pulpits in force before the campaign has ended.

Baptists were in the forefront of opposition to gambling and liquor proposals in past years, but lost out in 1982 when pari-mutuel horse race betting was approved by voters.

They also were unsuccessful in defeating a county-option liquor-by-the-drink proposition in 1984.

On the other side, the Oklahoma Best organization, which is sponsoring the lottery, is showing little cash on hand for an anticipated media advertising push.

But virtually everyone is expecting money to roll in from lottery interests and such a campaign will be mounted before May 10.

Oklahoma Best treasurer Melvin Hall said he hoped his group would be able to put on the kind of campaign needed to win approval of a lottery.

But he insisted that at this point the other side had more money, partly because his organization expended so many funds for legal fees and its petition drive to get the issue to the ballot.

"I'm not saying we are without resources, we just need more," he said.

Lance Ward, state Election Board secretary, said he is hesitant to make a prediction on the voter turnout at this point.

"But I think it should exceed 500,000," Ward said.

He said it is too early to hazard a guess either way on whether the election could challenge the record 790,000-vote turnout for a special election that occurred in 1991 on a plan to repeal House Bill 1017. The bid to repeal the education reform plan failed.

"A lot depends on the activity from here on," Ward said. "We're still almost a month away (from the election). …

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