Oklahoma Sees Surge In Early Voting, Election Boards Remain Busy
Oklahoma has seen a record number of mail-in ballots and absentee voting this year compared to 2016. The state has seen more than 446,000 mail and absentee votes this election — a 176% increase compared to the 2016 general election.
Long lines awaited early voters across the state, with reports of some voters waiting in line for up to four and a half hours.
In Tulsa on Saturday, voting lines snaked around three city blocks in the Greenwood District. Early voting in Tulsa County was held at ONEOK Field, an open-air minor league baseball stadium, to accomodate an expected record turnout and adhere to coronavirus precautions.
Eighteen-year-old first time voters Seerut Parmar and Abigail Alderman waited nearly three hours to cast their vote. Alderman said it was worth it.
"Honestly, just the energy of this. It's kind of empowering to see so many people who are driven by a singular goal and by representing their rights as Americans," Alderman said.
Timothy Newsom wanted to make sure he got to the polls before Tuesday and said no matter what issues you care about, it's important to vote.
"The biggest thing is people come out and vote. Whatever party you're with, just come out and vote," Newsom said."Make sure your voice is heard."
The influx in registrations and early voting has kept local election boards busy.
“This one is definitely a lot busier and a lot more phone calls and people coming in our office and the registrations, where we got a lot of registrations by registration deadline,” Logan County Election Board secretary Sheleen Winscott said.
In Kingfisher County, things are also busy. Shawna Butts, Kingfisher County Election Board secretary, said they need someone to answer the phone all day because of the influx of questions from voters. Butts said the board does the same work for every election, whether voters go to the polls or not.
“So it's almost like a let down when you don't have a good turnout and something because you've went through all that work, you're hoping that they get out and vote,” Butts said. “As the demand for registration and absentee balloting goes up, you do have to have more hands on deck. We need someone just to answer the phone the whole time we're here so we can get other things done.”
In Kingfisher County, 408 voted by mail and 1,173 voted absentee. In Logan County, 3,434 voted by mail and 3,072 voted absentee.
Election day is Nov. 3, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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