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Election day is approaching fast. On June 30th, we will be voting on big issues like expanding access to healthcare and electing candidates- everywhere from local government to US Senate.

Oh yeah- and there has also been loads of confusion around this election. Many Oklahomans are unsure about their absentee ballot, if there will be in person voting, and what’s on the ballot (view on OK Voter Portal). We have put together a resource that hopefully explains what’s going on and provides the resources needed to vote safely. 

Let's Break it Down

As a refresher, a primary election, like the one on June 30th, is an election where voters choose who they want in their party for a general election race, and it can also feature things like state questions  which are direct issues that voters weigh in on.  In the same way that Democrats and Republicans get to pick “their” candidates to run in the general election for president, local and state positions are elected by their party members in the same way. This election has both primary voting for elected officials, specific to each part of Oklahoma, as well as a direct citizen vote, or ballot initiative, of State Question 802. It’s also happening during a really interesting time, so are some tips to get out the vote safely!

Voting during a pandemic- What’s that like? A lot of us are questioning how this election might increase the risk of spreading Coronavirus, or worry that the pandemic could be politicized to sway the vote. Critics have shown concern that some policy makers have intentionally made voting more difficult during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many believe these actions will significantly lower voter turnout, and the results may not represent the community.  

Oklahomans will be able to vote by mail (woo hoo!) and in person.

  • When voting in person: Know that election boards are quickly adopting new cleaning and social distancing procedures for polling stations across Oklahoma. Even though these new procedures require more people to run polling stations, fewer people are volunteering to help. If that winds up happening, it is likely that counties have no choice but to close polling locations  which will force remaining locations to serve more people while trying to maintain social distancing and cleaning procedures. (Check your polling location, or sign up to help out at the polls on election day). 

     

  • When voting early: You can vote in person ahead of June 30th. Early voting is available across Oklahoma from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. Counties decide the number of early voting locations and where they are, so be sure to check with your county’s election board. Some counties, like Tulsa, have closed early voting locations and are warning of large crowds due to the change and necessary cleaning precautions.

     
  • When voting by mail:  When you vote by mail you are called an Absentee voter because you are “absent” from the poll sites. Rather than going to the polls, absentee voters receive their ballot in the mail and send it back to be counted. In Oklahoma, any voter can sign up to vote absentee. You’ve either got to get a notary to sign off on your ballot, or you need to send in a photocopy of your accepted voter ID in with your ballot. You can rest assured that absentee voting is the most effective way to reduce the risk to yourself and others. In Oklahoma, voters can request an absentee ballot with no reason needed. The deadline to request your absentee ballot it June 23, 2020. Don’t forget: you ballot needs 2 first class stamps!

What about all the notary drama?  In May, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the mandate that all absentee ballots had to be notarized. Within a week, the legislature and governor approved a new law that brought the requirement back. When the capitol passed the new notary requirement, they included a section that allows voters to use a copy of their voter ID instead of a notary for this election. A copy of any accepted voter ID is allowed. This is not a permanent change, but thankfully, this law won’t change again before the June 30th election.

Take Action Now!

Check out the organizations and resources below to get you all the information you’ll need to vote like a pro. 

Voter Stuff:

Apply to be an absentee voter. It takes less than 3 minutes and you are able to do it online through the OK Voter Portal (English/Español). This is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. The deadline to request is June 23rd.
Become a notary. The process takes about 2 weeks and can be done independently or through an agency–can be found through a quick web search. More notaries means more people can access an absentee ballot.
Apply for the waiver. Each county uses the same form to request the 20 ballot cap be lifted and many counties accept the application via email. As a notary, you’ll have the most impact if you’re not constrained to 20 ballots wherever you’re notarizing.
Run an absentee voter drive! We’ve all heard of voter registration drives but this election, absentee voting is all the rage. Drives can be hosted online since applying for an absentee ballot can be done over the internet. Contact individuals from your work, church,  or community group and ask if they are voting absentee. Play music, wear a fun hat, make it a party.

On the Issues:

Learn more about State Question 802. YesOn802  has gathered a whopping 313,677 signatures — the most in Oklahoma history — to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot. They need our help in this citizen-lead movement that lets voters decide what’s best for their communities.

Get familiar with advocacy groups focused on gender equity. Oklahoma Women’s Coalition is Oklahoma’s voice for women and girls, dedicated to advancing gender equity and justice across our state. Check out their issue areas and upcoming events to have your voice heard!

Learn EVEN MORE  about State Question 802. Oklahoma Policy Institute has prepared a detailed breakdown of SQ 802. It is a great resource with everything you want to know about the measure and more. 

Submit a public comment on sketchy policy. The Coalition to Expand Coverage has a call to action we can all get behind! They’ve made it super easy to submit a public comment on the kinda sketchy  health care proposal, SoonerCare 2.0., that includes unnecessary barriers that healthcare for thousands of deserving Oklahomans.

Cool Tools

Simplify sending your ballot back. Tulsa Voter Van is offering free printing for accepted voter IDs by texting a picture of your ID to (539) 589-1543. They’ll print and send you a copy in the mail! Oklahoma Notaries Public are handing out stamps when you get your ballot notarized at one of their notary events. Just drop it in the closest mailbox and you’re done. 
Get your friends registered to vote the easy way. While the registration deadline has passed to vote in this election, there is still time to get your friends registered for the general election later this year! OKVote offers you the ability to fill out the form online. You can also check your polling place and verify your registration status.  
Cruise this Voter Resource. VOTER411 is a nationwide resource by the League of Women Voters.  The information is easy to understand and straightforward. It aims to provide voters with a better understanding of the various voting laws and policies in their state. 
Increase notary access. Dozens of notary events planned by private groups and county agencies are taking place across Oklahoma weekly. They are giving voters easy access to get their ballot notarized. There is a concerted effort to lift the 20 ballot limit for as many notaries as possible across the state (waiver). Many are applying to all 77 counties in Oklahoma.