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'No Matter What': Oklahoma Election Workers Determined As Power Restoration Continues

Matthew Viriyapah / KOSU
People wait in line on the first day of early voting outside Moore Norman Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The election must go on.

That’s the tune Wanda Armold, the Canadian County Election Board secretary, is singing after an early winter storm swept through Oklahoma, leaving more than 300,000 Oklahomans without power.

Power may not be restored everywhere by the Nov. 3rd election, although electric companies say polling places are high priority as they work to restore power.

“I am concerned about some of my rural polling places,” Armold said. “I’m hoping and praying that all of my poll workers are healthy, the roads are cleared and the electricity is back on by Tuesday.”

For Oklahoma’s seasoned election officials, plans are in place to ensure every vote is counted come election day. Armold, who has been working at the Canadian County Election Board for more than 35 years, led poll workers through a similar election in 2012.

“It’s not a new thing to go without electricity on election night,” Armold said. “Poll workers will sit in dark places, with blankets wrapped around them and have voters drop their ballots into emergency bins. At seven o’clock, they’ll pack those ballots up and bring them to my office where we’ll feed them into our machine.”

In neighboring Caddo County, poll worker Alice Walter said some ballot boxes run off batteries.

“We’re trying to find generators for the precincts that do not have power,” Walter said. “It’s up to us to find generators. We’ve put feelers out to different merchants and we’ll use money in our budget to pay for it.”

Even if power isn’t back on by election day, Walter is resolute.

“The election will go on, even if it’s by candlelight,” Walter said. “On election day, go to your precincts as usual, there will be voting there — no matter what.”


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Chelsea Ferguson joined KOSU in March 2022 as Membership Specialist.
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