Power outages and voting in Oklahoma: What you need to know

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans are continuing to lose power less than 24 hours from early voting. But state election officials say no matter what, early voting and voting on Election Day will take place.

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Election Board said in a statement Wednesday, “Early voting and Election Day voting will take place regardless of the conditions. You will need to contact the counties for information on their specific situation.”

The Oklahoma County Election Board lost power Monday morning, but only for a few minutes, thanks to a backup generator.

Unlike hundreds of thousands in the state, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson said they asked OG&E to take them off the system and not reconnect, knowing that for the next couple weeks, fallen trees and downed lines could mean repeat disconnections.

“That would mean we would go dark for a few minutes during our early voting and then we’d have to reboot the whole system,” Sanderson said.

So for now, using the backup generator, which runs on diesel, seems like the most reliable choice.

Considerations have also been made for Election Day.

Sanderson said OG&E has agreed to make polling places a priority.

“They’ve put all of our polling sites on our critical list, so we’re hopeful they’ll be up and running,” Sanderson said.

If there’s not power, the polling places will still be open. Polling workers will set up booths to maximize the use of natural light, and they’ll use flashlights if necessary. In those situations, ballots would be kept in an emergency bin until the end of the day.

“They’ll secure the ballots and return them to our office, and we’ll count them here,” Sanderson said.

All of the votes are recorded on chips that are kept secure by sheriffs’ deputies, so regardless of whether there’s a power outage, Sanderson said those votes will be safe.

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