Carter County sees record pace for early voting

Drew Butler
Carter County voters line up to cast ballots on the first day of early voting Thursday.
Signs near the Carter County administration building direct early voters to the election board offices Thursday. Early voting in Oklahoma continues through Saturday.

The residents of Carter County are already turning out in record numbers to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Thursday was the first day of early in-person voting and Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall said around 900 people came in to cast their ballots.

Though voting hours were scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hall said people started lining up at around 6 a.m.

“I came in at around 7:10 (a.m.), and about 15 people were already waiting in line,” Hall said. “One man who said he got here at around 6 (a.m.) had even brought a tent to wait in until we opened. We’ve never had anything like that before.”

Hall said during the 2016 presidential election around 1,600 people participated in early in-person voting. With more than half of that number already having come in to vote, she expects this year to be record breaking.

In general, Hall estimates that most people ended up waiting around an hour or an hour and a half to vote, but some of the morning wait times were over two hours long.

“There was one point this morning when we had way too many people inside the building,” Hall said. “People kept crowding in and they were not social distancing, so we had to stop the line and let those who were already inside move through the process. Some of those who were outside ended up having to wait around two hours.”

Early voting will continue today and tomorrow at the Carter County Election Board located at 25 A St. NW in Ardmore. Voting hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

In addition to the record pace for the numbers of early in-person ballots being cast, 2020 has also brought a record number of absentee ballots. In 2016 around 800 absentee ballots were cast, and Hall said 2,331 absentee ballots were requested this year. She said 1,523 have been returned so far and only about a dozen have been disqualified.