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What You Need To Know About Election Day In Oklahoma

Nov 8, 2016

Polls opened at 7 a.m. across Oklahoma, and the State Election Board says nearly 1,000 extra pollworkers are manning precincts today. Several polling places throughout the metro had long lines, with some voters waiting for anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes Tuesday morning.

"You can count on the busiest times being before work, during lunch, after work," said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. "But this is a presidential general election, we think it could be busy all day long."

As of Monday, about 90,000 Oklahomans had already voted absentee by mail, and Ziriax said Oklahoma smashed the old record for in-person absentee ("early" voting) Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

"The previous high was a little more than 114,000 back in 2008. We are over 152,000 early voters for 2016, and not all of the county election boards report that in real time," Ziriax said. "They're still trying to put their numbers in. So that number's going to go up."

Oklahoma County led the state with almost 21,000 early voters, followed by Tulsa County with nearly 18,000, and Cleveland County with nearly 14,000. There are just under 2.1 million registered voters in Oklahoma, and about 10 percent voted before Tuesday. The other 90 percent can cast a ballot as long as they're in line by 7 p.m.

Am I Eligible To Vote?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, an Oklahoma resident, and 18 years old on Election Day, you can vote in the county where you're registered.

Convicted felons may not register for a period equal to the time of the original sentence. Pardoned felons may register. You’re also ineligible if you’ve been judged incapacitated by a court.

How Do I Know If I’m Registered?

You can confirm your voter registration online. You’ll need two pieces of information:

  • First and last name.
  • Date of birth.

You can also view a sample ballot, track your absentee ballot (if you requested one), and find your polling place.

What Kind Of ID Will I Need When I Do Go Vote?

In 2010, 74 percent of Oklahoma voters approved the voter ID law contained in State Question 746. It requires you to prove your identity by either showing a photo ID, a county election board voter ID card (which you should’ve gotten by mail when you registered).

Any document issued by the United States, the State of Oklahoma, or a federally recognized Native American tribal government is acceptable as long as it includes your name, a photograph, and has not expired.

If you don’t have a photo ID, you can sign an affidavit and cast a provisional ballot. It will be counted after Election Day once your county election board investigates and verifies the information provided on the affidavit.

If you’re voting absentee, you don’t need to enclose a copy of your photo ID, but the signatures will have to be notarized.

What Can't I Do On Election Day?

Don't vote drunk or high, for starters. Under state law, it's illegal to attend an election or be within 300 feet of a polling place in an "intoxicated condition" on Election Day.

"Electioneering" (campaigning, advocacy, or advertising) within 300 feet of a polling place is also a crime. No printed material other than what's provided by the election board can be publicly placed or exposed within 300 feet of a ballot box, so leave the red "Make America Great Again" hats or blue "I'm With Her" t-shirts at home.

It's a felony to commit election fraud or conspire to do so, and that includes knowingly removing a ballot from a polling place, or taking one in with you.

You can take notes with you into the booth about how you plan to vote (which might be helpful given the seven state questions on the ballot's reverse), but it's against the law to share it with another voter.

There's no specific law against taking a photograph of a ballot (or the widely reported "ballot selfie"), but it is against the law to disclose how you voted inside the polling place.

"Our recommendation is don't take a photo of your voted ballot and post it, just to be on the safe side," Ziriax said. "I'm not aware of anyone actually prosecuted, but if you're going to do it, definitely don't do it while you're in the election enclosure."

Do I Have To Vote For Everything?

Nope. There's no requirement to vote for every single race or question on the ballot, and Ziriax says leaving a box or two blank actually has an official name - "undervoting."

"That does not invalidate the rest of your ballot, so if there's one you feel that you just can't, for whatever reason, vote in, don't let that stop you from voting in the other races and in the state questions that are on your ballot," Ziriax said.

Oklahoma law also doesn't allow for write-in candidates, but if you do write-in a candidate, it won't invalidate the rest of the ballot.

More Information

There’s a lot more helpful information and frequently asked questions on the Oklahoma State Election Board website. You can also call (405) 521-2391.

The Oklahoma Public Media Exchange's Michael Cross contributed to this report.

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