Oklahoma County Election Boards Absentee Ballots May Surge This Year

Thursday, April 30th 2020, 10:00 pm
By: Erick Payne

County election boards said they're preparing for a surge in absentee voting this year because of COVID-19.

But Oklahomans trying to cast their vote that way could run into a big problem.

The state is one of only three in the nation that requires a mail-in ballot to be sent with a notarized affidavit in-person. And, there's a limit to the number of ballots each notary can process.

Oklahoma state law allows a notary to sign only 20 absentee ballots per election, unless the notary gets a letter of permission from the state.

Rogers County Election Secretary Julie Dermody said to meet demand, they're planning a new way for voters to get their ballots notarized.

"We're going to set up nine different stations in the county where they can just drive through," Dermody said.

Dermody said they expect they'll need a minimum of 36 volunteer notaries beforehand for this plan to work.

"This time that we're living in is totally unprecedented, we're in uncharted waters, so we need to think out of the box a little bit," Dermody said.

Other regions, like Wagoner County, say they're trying to 'compile a list of notaries,' and are looking for volunteers to help with the number of ballots.

As these county leaders, and others, try to prepare a solution, advocacy groups are suing to allow voters to send in a signed statement under the penalty of perjury with the ballot, instead of requiring an affidavit signed by a notary.

They said, "this obstacle is not a small one-particularly during a pandemic."

The state's lawyers said notaries are a measure to combat election fraud, and only the state legislature can change the requirement.

We do not know when the State Supreme Court will rule on this lawsuit.