Oklahoma State Election Board reports thousands of absentee ballots rejected, missing requirements

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s been nearly 10 days since election day, and now we’re getting a closer look on how Oklahomans voted. The state reported a massive increase in absentee ballots but we’re finding out not all those votes ended up counting.

“In Oklahoma, it’s pretty easy. Every now and then I see people saying, ‘Gosh, it’s so hard.’ And I’m like, ‘For it being so hard, a lot of people sure figured out how to do it right,’” said Paul Ziriax, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary.

The Oklahoma State Election Board gave insight on why some voters’ ballots were rejected.

“In Oklahoma, every legally cast absentee ballot was counted and those were tabulated on election night,” Xiriax said.

But not all absentee ballots were cast legally. 

On an absentee ballot rejection report from the State Election Board, you can see over 4,700 absentee ballots had to be thrown out. Nearly 1,500 of them were either not notarized or did not have a photocopy of the voter’s ID attached.

State Election Board officials told KFOR that absentee data is still coming in from some counties, so these numbers could increase.

“Even though the numbers are relatively small, there were that many people whose vote didn’t count,” said Jan Largent, League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. “We have been advocating for a while to do away with the notary requirement, where a voter could sign under penalty of perjury. That is an option in other states and, as we know, voter fraud is rare.”

Largent says the group hopes to make voting easier in future elections, such as doing away with showing your ID to turn your absentee ballot in.

“If that rule went away then we could have things like ballot boxes at our election boards,” Largent said.

Largent also says then a relative could drop off your ballot if you are unable to do so yourself.

But the state election board says the rules currently in place for absentee ballots worked.

“We have very good instructions that were included. I think what we’re gonna see at the end of the day is overwhelmingly the vast, vast majority of absentee ballots that were submitted got counted. And the ones that didn’t were because of major defects like not including an ID or some other form of verification,” Xiriax said.

“Voters shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to vote,” Largent said.

State Election Board officials say about 90 percent of the absentee ballot rejection information has come in from across the state. They hope to have the rest of the data in within the next week.

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