Vision Tulsa passed at the ballot box Tuesday, but it obviously wasn’t a vision embraced by most Tulsans.
Not if voter turnout is any indication, because Tuesday’s turnout was terrible.
The three Vision Tulsa propositions were approved by an average of 31,018 voters — or about 15.4 percent — of the city’s 201,562 registered voters, according to preliminary figures from the Tulsa County Election Board.
Add the “no” votes to the equation and the turnout rate increases to 21.9 percent.
About four out of five registered voters stayed home, in other words.
The numbers were worse for the Tulsa County Vision 2025 renewal proposition. Less than 19 percent of registered voters showed up to cast a ballot, according to the Election Board. The 15-year, 0.05 percent sales tax was approved by 39,834 voters. That’s 15.4 percent of the county’s 333,900 registered voters.
Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant said she had expected a larger turnout based on the two most recent river-related initiatives.
In October 2007, about 40 percent of registered voters turned out countywide to vote on a $282 million sales tax package that would have paid for low-water dams, land acquisition and a connector system between the Arkansas River and downtown.
Sixty-five percent of registered voters turned out Nov. 6, 2012, to cast ballots for president of the United States as well as Vision2. Barack Obama was re-elected, but Vision2 failed.
“It was too high,” Bryant said of her prediction. “I had (those) two elections to compare it to.”
Bryant had estimated a turnout of 35 percent to 40 percent. The only reason she could come up with for the low voter turnout was a lack of interest.
“It wasn’t the weather,” she said. “There is a group of people that really care about their community and there are others who are not as interested.”
Those who did show up at the polls Tuesday strongly endorsed the three Vision Tulsa propositions and the county’s single Vision 2025 renewal.
The first two propositions in the $884 million Vision Tulsa package — separate permanent taxes for public safety and transportation/street maintenance — were approved by more than 70 percent of voters.
Proposition 3, which includes funding for low-water dams and other economic development projects, was approved by 63 percent of voters.
Meanwhile, Tulsa County’s proposal to extend the existing Vision 2025 sales tax for 15 years garnered support from nearly 64 percent of voters. The sales tax will be used to fund infrastructure, park and street improvements.
City Councilor Anna America said she would have liked to have seen a larger turnout but that she is grateful to those people who took the time to study the issues and cast a ballot.
“As much as I want turnout, I didn’t want uneducated turnout,” America said. “We did everything we could to get the information out and encourage people to get to the polls.”
The city chose the April 5 election date in part to give itself time to hold another election should all — or pieces — of Tuesday’s ballot been voted down, America said.
The city could not have held the Vision Tulsa vote on the same day as the presidential election in November because that would not have given the state Tax Commission adequate notification to implement the tax beginning Jan. 1.
The initial Vision package, called Vision 2025, was overwhelmingly approved by voters in a special election on Sept. 9, 2003. Forty percent of registered voters turned out for that election.
The most recent citywide election prior to Tuesday drew 36.3 percent of registered voters. That race pitted sitting Mayor Dewey Bartlett against former Mayor Kathy Taylor.
Here are the unofficial precinct-by-precinct results from Tuesday’s Tulsa Vision election: