Our democratic system of government is as fragile as those few who show up to the polls.
On Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., registered voters will line up to cast their ballot for a myriad of races throughout the state and across the nation. Far too few Oklahomans go to the polls though, so that leaves the choice of who represents us in each office to those select voters who take the time to show up.
I have often said that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy when someone says their vote does not count and they do not show up to mark their ballot.
If you are unsure of where your polling location might be, you can go to https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ and submit your home address. If you have recently moved and not updated your home address, the election board will still have you listed at your former polling location, so use the address where you were last registered to vote with one condition.
If you have moved within the same county where you are currently registered to vote, you can make changes to your address or political affiliation online using the state election board website following the upcoming election. State law [26 O.S. § 4-117] allows voters, who have moved within the county where they are currently registered to vote, the opportunity to vote one last time at their previous polling place by showing a valid ID and filling out a new Voter Registration Application.
If you have moved to a new county, you will need to complete a new paper “Voter Registration Application” and mail or hand-deliver the application to your new county election board. Also, if you have changed your name you will need to complete a new paper “Voter Registration Application” and mail or hand-deliver the application to your new county election board.
If you are denied the right to vote due to a change in name, you can ask for a provisional ballot at your polling location so that your vote can be cast and counted once the election board verifies your identity.
In addition to voting at your polling place, we also have other means of ensuring a vote is counted, such as vote by mail and in-person absentee voting. This year, about 99,000 Oklahomans signed up to have their ballots mailed to them, including myself. The system that the state Election Board uses is secure, requires a signature and a notarized validation, and is kept in an unmarked envelope so workers cannot tell how a person votes once the votes are received and certified. Please do not vote by mail and in-person as that is against the law to vote twice.
In-person absentee voting allows a registered voter to go to either their county election board or in a few counties, a designated location established by the election board. In addition to early voting on the Thursday and Friday preceding an election, a recent change provides early voting be also available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding a state or federal Primary Election, Runoff Primary Election, General Election or Presidential Preferential Primary Election.
Additionally, early voting is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the Wednesday preceding the General Election only. This allows four days other than Election Day for a person to be able to vote in a designated location. If you want to know where your county election board or a designated polling location for early voting is located, go to https://hosting.okelections.us/earlyvote.html to see the list by county.
Finally, if you mark the “straight party” box at the top of your ballot, and you do not have to for your ballot to count, you can also mark individual races and those will be the ones counted. Most people want to vote across party lines, so this allows you to select the best candidate for you. There is a misperception with many that you have to mark your party affiliation on the ballot and that is not true.
Please make certain your voice is heard in this upcoming election. Do not think that your vote does not count, because it will if you show up.