By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The ballots are printed, voting machines tested and precinct workers prepared.
The Payne County Election Board is ready for Tuesday’s municipal elections in Cushing, Perkins and Stillwater, Election Board Secretary Alyson Dawson said.
Actually, the voting has started. Absentee ballots were mailed, and some have been returned, she said. Early voting starts at 8 a.m. Friday in the Payne County Administration Building, 315 W. Sixth Ave. in Stillwater. Friday’s early voting will close at 6 p.m. Early voting will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
Earlier this week, Dawson visited the NewsPress studios for a webisode of the paper’s “Conversations with ...” public affairs program. Dawson discussed Tuesday’s municipal elections, election preparations, voter registration, early voting and the composition and role of the Payne County Election Board. Here are excerpts from the “Conversations with ...” interview.
When will the polls be open on election day and what do voters need to bring to the polls?
“The polls will open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning. They will be open to 7 p.m. that night. Voters need to bring their IDs — either a state-issued photo ID that has not expired or they can bring their voter ID card. We are looking at the names. Make sure your name matches the name in the precinct registry. Sometimes, it is an issue with women who have gotten married or divorced. We just want to make sure their first name and last name match. Also, you can get a temporary voter ID card from our office that is good for 30 days. If you need to come by our office, we can get you a temporary ID card. ...”
How do you figure out what precinct and where your polling place is?
“You can get online at the state election board website, www.elections.ok.gov. You can just put in some information and it will tell you were your polling place is. You can also call our office (405) 747-8350 and we can let you know as well. ...”
In the last few weeks, what has the election board done to get ready for the municipal election?
“We had to order the ballots and receive those. We separated those by precinct. We pre-defined all the voting devices to get them ready to take out to all the polling places. We’ve gotten all the supplies ready for the precinct workers to take with them on election day. We have sent out close to 300 absentee ballots. We have been receiving some of them back. We’ve notified all the precinct workers to make sure they are available that day. If not, we had to find substitute officials to fill in for them. We notified the polling places to make sure they are open and ready for us on election day.”
How do you find precinct workers? Do they come knocking on your door and say “Hey, I want to work a polling place?” or do you have to recruit them?
“Sometimes I might put an ad in the newspaper, but most of the time we’ve been fortunate that people will come by the office. A lot of times they will have a friend who is a precinct worker and their friend told them about it. They kind of trickle in once in a while. We keep a list of their name and contact information. When we get quite a few people on our list, we will hold a training session and get them trained so they are ready to work. They do get paid $25 for the training. On election day, we have three precinct workers out there. We have an inspector who, kind of, oversees everything. The inspector will come to the office the Monday before the election and pick up the voting device and all their supplies and take them to the polling place. At the end of the night, the inspector will bring the voting device, the ballots and everything back into the office so we can canvass the results. The inspector makes $97. We also have a clerk and a judge — one of each party. The clerk and judge make $87 for the day. It’s a long day but we certainly appreciate our precinct workers. We couldn’t do it without them.”