Making it count: How ballots are counted in Oklahoma

Drew Butler
Election equipment from Carter County precincts is sorted at the election board on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

Voters across the state have already headed to the polls for early voting and sent in their absentee ballots in record numbers. Thousands more will be turning up to their polling places for election day today.

Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall said all of these ballots will be counted and tallied up electronically via secure computer connection. She described how the process will work once the polls close tonight.

“At the polling place there is a flash drive in the machine itself,” Hall said. “When the machines get back here (the Carter County Election Board) we will open up the machine and take the flash drive to a computer that is not hooked up to the internet. To prevent hacking, there are no processes that are over the internet. It all goes straight to Oklahoma City.”

The process is similar but somewhat more involved when it comes to counting the absentee ballots. The absentee ballots are contained within three sealed envelopes. Within the outside envelope is another envelope that contains the sworn affidavits and a third envelope with the ballot itself.

“Right now we’re opening the outside envelopes which is the only one we can do without the election board,” Hall said Monday afternoon. “When my board gets here — the Democrat and the Republican — they will check the affidavits to see if they are notarized, witnessed, or have a copy of the ID — any of those three. If they say there are we will put them in a stack and start running those ballots through the machine.”

The ones that have not completed the affidavit correctly will be set aside and Hall will manually input them into the system as rejected and describe the reason for their rejection.

Hall will be picking up the last absentee ballots from the post office this evening around 6 p.m. when the post office does their last P.O. box drop for the day. The polling places are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but anyone who is already waiting in line when the polls close will be allowed to vote.