Oklahoma Has Strong System of Voting Convenience and Security
For those of you who are registered voters, please do not forget that Tuesday, August 25, is the Primary Runoff Election Day. In total, 50 of our 77 counties will have polls open for voters for at least one race.
In 18 Oklahoma counties, there will be a federal or state runoff on the ballot. If you have a question regarding if you have a race in which to vote this election, you can go to https://www.ok.gov/elections/ to check and to get other information about elections.
On OICA’s website at oica.org, we have published candidate surveys returned by individuals seeking your votes across the state. We also have a legislative scorecard showing how “child-friendly” every lawmaker’s record is – or is not. These are great resources, and we encourage every Oklahoman to review these before voting.
It is past the deadline to request an absentee ballot through the postal system for the Runoff Election; that deadline is always one week ahead of the election date. It is not too late to request your ballot for the General Election on November 3 should you be out of town, incapable of making it to the polls on Election Day due to work, or want to protect yourself from possible COVID-19 infection.
A voter in Oklahoma does not have to have to list any reason for requesting a ballot by mail. Still, provisions are allowed for individuals who need exceptions, such as those who are hospitalized, incapacitated, or unable to go inside their polling places without assistance.
When I served in the Legislature, I was honored to write legislation to bring Oklahoma into compliance with the Help America Vote Act. That is federal legislation that established timelines to allow ballots to reach the military and American citizens overseas to make sure those Americans have time to receive and return a ballot. Voting by mail has been allowed in every single state for this, and many others expanded upon that.
Oklahoma has had a reliable system in place for decades to allow people the option to vote by mail or early in-person at your county election board. Unfortunately, some people have chosen to politicize the opportunity to vote by mail due to fear that it will benefit one party or another. In fact, BOTH parties encourage their members to vote by mail, and President Donald Trump himself votes by mail in his home state of Florida. This convenient way to exercise your right should be available to every American, including the president.
Over the weekend, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax discussed our system of voting on a local news station. He assured people that our current chain of custody laws are strong and help prevent fraud when voting by mail.
Oklahoma lawmakers passed legislation this year to allow voters to photocopy drivers licenses to cross-reference signatures from election records to assure ballots cast are valid. The system provides extra convenience and safety during the pandemic and is another protection against fraud.
Early in-person voting is available before the Tuesday election dates as well. For local elections, the county election board is open on Thursday and Friday before election day. For areas with state and federal races, they also are open on Saturday before election day.
We have a closed primary system, so you can only vote for candidates in the party of which you are a member; registered independent voters can cast ballots in the Democratic primary if they wish. Nonpartisan elections, such as the Tulsa municipal election, are open to all voters. Please remember to take identification with you as we still maintain voter ID laws for in-person voting also.
I am proud of the system we have in Oklahoma, which has been built by local leaders from both political parties. Please do your part and make sure your vote counts in the upcoming runoff and again in November!