Oklahoma election official discusses absentee ballots, postal service delay

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Early voting is already underway across the state ahead of next week’s runoff elections.

The runoff election is set for Aug. 25, but voters can head to their county election board to cast their votes from 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, or from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Currently, the state has already received more than 35,000 absentee ballots.

However, there has been a national controversy surrounding ballots received through the mail.

Recently, the U.S. Postal Service warned dozens of states, including Oklahoma, that it may struggle to get those ballots to county election boards on time.

Secretary Paul Ziriax, from the Oklahoma State Election Board, says if you are concerned about your ballot not reaching the election board on time, you can hand deliver it.

“If you have a standard absentee ballot, the no excuse ballot that has a yellow affidavit, you have an option to hand deliver that to your county election board. You’ll be asked to show the same ID as when you vote in person when you drop that off, but you can do that during regular business hours up until the Monday before the election. But here in Oklahoma, we have an excellent working relationship with the local postal officials, both with the state election board and county election boards. Everything that we’re seeing and everything that we’re hearing from local postal officials is that absentee ballots will remain a priority, a very high priority, and we’re very confident that postal workers will work with us,” Ziriax told KFOR.

He says he doesn’t expect any major delays, although the increase in absentee ballots may cause some counties to take a little bit longer to count all of the votes.

“Here in Oklahoma, we pride ourselves on getting all of the ballots counted as early as possible. That’s usually on election night. I suspect given the increased volume in mail, some of our county election boards may need a little bit longer. But in terms of taking days or weeks, that’s just not going to happen in Oklahoma. We’ll know fairly quickly,” he said.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Ziriax says they are doing everything they can to protect poll workers.

“We strongly encourage voters to wear masks, and we do provide PPE like masks and gloves and disinfectant , and have routines for cleaning and disinfecting at polling sites. We try to make that as safe as possible for the voters and for our poll workers,” he said.

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