New procedures in effect for upcoming elections
When Oklahomans go to the polls on June 30 a few changes will be in place. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has issued new procedures for polling places as well as some new procedures for absentee and incapacitated ballots.
Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall explained some of these changes.
“The state has put together PPE kits for every precinct,” Hall said. “The poll workers will all have masks and eye protection as well as gloves and enough hand sanitizer for them and the public. I’ve also bought tape to mark off six feet for people waiting in line, and we’ve got jumbo clothespins for the workers to use when they look at people’s ID, so they won’t have to touch it.”
Once voters receive their ballots, they will receive a sanitized pen to mark their votes and will return the pen to be sanitized after scanning their ballot. There will also only be eight voting booths per polling station instead of ten, so each voter will be able to maintain social distancing as they vote.
Hall said valid forms of voter identification will include a state issued drivers license or photo ID, a federally issued ID such as a passport, a voter registration card, a state issued medical marijuana card, or a mobile ID. The mobile ID is a new program offered by the state that allows Oklahomans the opportunity to have a digitized version of their drivers license or state ID in addition to their physical ID. The OKmID app is available on Apple and Android and is free until November 1. After November 1, the service will cost $4.49 per year.
Hall said those wanting to cast absentee ballots will have some new options available for this election. Voters once had to have a notary public notarize a sworn affidavit to submit along with their absentee ballot. While voters can still use this method, they can also send in a copy of their ID along with their completed ballot so they no longer have to go to a notary public.
The last day to request an absentee ballot will be June 23.
Voters who are incapacitated, fall into the safer at home category, or care for a person who is incapacitated also have new options available to them for this election. In the past, these voters needed to have two witness signatures from persons over the age of 18 to verify authenticity. This remains an option, but they can also choose to submit a copy of their ID, or submit a notarized affidavit instead.
Another new law that has recently gone into effect concerns taking ballot selfies inside polling places.
“It’s perfectly okay to take ballot selfies inside the polling place, we just ask that no one post any pictures to social media until after exiting the building because that would be considered electioneering,” Hall said. “As soon as you're out the door, it’s fine to post them.”
Finally Hall wanted to remind anyone who requested to change their political affiliation after March 31, this will not have gone into effect by June 30. These voters will still be able to vote under their previous affiliation or submit a provisional ballot at their polling place.
In person voting will begin at the Carter County Election Board located at 25 A St. NW on Thursday June 25. Voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday June 27.
“We just ask for everyone’s patience as we come up with new solutions for our current issues, and it might take some time to get the kinks worked out” Hall said. “There will probably be lines, and it’s probably going to take a little bit longer than it did before.”