There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the legitimacy of elections in Oklahoma, and I have heard from constituents voicing concerns. Election integrity is of the utmost concern to myself and other elected officials, as well as to the members of the State Election Board.
I want to share what I have learned from communicating with Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. We discussed what state and county election officials do at every election to ensure the integrity of each Oklahoman’s ballot.
To secure our elections, Oklahoma uses paper ballots and our system is auditable and verifiable. There is extensive pre-election testing of voting devices, software and ballots at both the state and county level.
Oklahoma’s voting system – which includes the voting devices, system software, computers used to program voting devices and computers used to calculate results – is never connected to the internet. Additionally, network connections with county election boards are secured and require multi-factor authentication. The voting system, election management system and voter registration system require multiple layers of authentication.
It is also worth noting that the State of Oklahoma, via the State Election Board, owns and controls the entire voting system – from the ballot scanners to the computers used to program elections and tabulate votes.
Additionally, all maintenance of devices is done by State Election Board employees rather than by outside contractors, as happens in many other states.
The voting system itself has numerous built-in safeguards. If any part of the system is tampered with, it is designed to “break” and will not work with the system’s other components.
For online services, such as updating a voter registration or requesting an absentee ballot, a voter must confirm their identity prior to being allowed to access this platform. All updates and requests via these online services must be processed and approved individually by county election board staff.
The identity of an absentee voter is also confirmed prior to the submission of a voted absentee ballot through the notarization or witnessing of an absentee ballot affidavit. Those voting in person must provide a valid state ID to vote.
The State and County Election Boards maintain a strict chain of custody for voting devices and ballots, from before an election until those results are certified as accurate and finalized by the State Election Board. Candidates in any race can contest the results of an election by requesting a recount or by filing a petition alleging election irregularities.
In 2019, the Legislature authorized post-election audits in Oklahoma. Although the development of the process for audits was delayed due to the pandemic, the State Election Board is currently testing audit techniques and plans to implement a system of random post-election audits for the 2022 elections.
Over and over, our state’s voting system has been proven to very accurately count ballots. Results were recently confirmed during a recount in an Edmond City Council election in April 2021 and a recount in a State Senate District 5 Republican runoff in Aug. 2020.
I am very proud of our Oklahoma election system and our hardworking state and county employees who maintain it. Our election system is one of the most accurate and secure voting systems anywhere in the entire world. Other states look to us as an example, and rightfully so.
Please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions regarding Oklahoma’s election process or other concerns you have. You can contact me at email@example.com and 405-557-7304.
Thank you for allowing me to serve House District 33!
Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.