Your vote counts

Tuesday at 5 p.m. is the deadline for voters to request a mail-in, absentee ballot for the June 30 primary from the Payne County Election Board.

Election Board Secretary Dondee Klein said there isn’t enough time to request an application by mail anymore. She recommends registered voters go to the Voter Portal at ok.gov/elections and fill out an application online. It will be routed to the proper election board.

They can also fill out a form in person at the Payne County Election Board, Suite 207, 312 W. 6th Ave.

Ballots and the affidavits that must accompany them will be mailed out to the voters who requested them Tuesday night, Klein said.

It’s been challenging this election cycle because of increased interest in mail-in voting due to COVID-19, Klein said. Many of the people requesting mail-in ballots are not familiar with the process, so there’s an education component.

“I said, ‘It’s not my first rodeo,’” Klein said. “But it is my first pandemic.”

There have been a few problems with delayed delivery through the U.S. Postal Service and a group of 12 people received the ballots for the wrong party, but most of the issues have been resolved, she said.

Now it’s a race to the finish as the election board staff prepares for early voting to begin Thursday and looks ahead to election day Tuesday.

Some voters reported not having any notice about the amount of postage required to mail the ballots back in. At least one voter said a member of the election board staff told her $0.65 should be enough to cover it.

The absentee ballots can be returned by hand by the voter who requested it, unless the person requested absentee voting because they are incapacitated, Klein said. Incapacity mainly just means they have a health condition or concern. Being in a high-risk group for COVID-19 would qualify.

If the person is voting absentee because they are incapacitated, the ballot must be mailed, she said.

People are doing what they can to make it easier as people continue to avoid crowds amid concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Many banks are offering free notary service and copying of identification for people who want to vote by mail.

Klein said she has also used her authority to waive the limit on how many ballots an individual notary can notarize, for any who requested it. She applied no limit.

All ballots must be received at the Payne County Election Board by Tuesday so Klein recommends people mail them as soon as possible to avoid delays.

Early voting, officially known as in-person absentee voting, will be held at the Payne County Election Board 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be following CDC social distancing guidelines and disinfecting equipment.

Klein said voters are asked to wear masks and expect delays because fewer voting stations will be available and people will be signed in as they become available.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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