Some Oklahoma Voting Polls Will Remain Closed Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday, June 8th 2020, 10:05 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

Tens of thousands of voters in Tulsa County will have to go to a new place to cast their ballot in this month's primary election.

It's just one of many changes voters can expect amid the pandemic.

As voters look to follow the CDC's social distancing guidelines, election officials are rising to meet several new challenges.

The absentee voting department of the Tulsa County Election board is hard at work. They've hired more staff to handle the significant increase in ballots.

"The amount of effort that goes into putting on this election compared to a non-COVID year is very different," Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman said.

Freeman said in the June election four years ago, they received 6,000 absentee ballots from across Tulsa County. She said this year, more than 16,000 voters have asked for absentee ballots for the primary.

"And we're just getting started for the month of June, so we're likely to see a lot of folks voting absentee, which is really, really good," Freeman said.

But while more voters look to stay home, those who want to vote in-person might need to go to a different precinct.

Freeman said about 30 of the 262 polling places won't be able to open on June 30th because of COVID-19.

If your precinct spot changes, the election board must mail you a notification and a new voter ID card.

Freeman said they've sent more than 50,000 letters so far.

"Before you show up to vote on election day, know where your polling place is," Freeman said.

If you plan to vote at the Tulsa County Election Board, crews are building a glass barrier to prevent the spread of disease.

Freeman said they're also asking for younger officials who are less at-risk for COVID-19 to staff precincts.

"Nothing's quite the same as it used to be, even a couple months ago," Freeman said.

Election officials ask you to wear a mask if you plan to vote in person and follow social distancing guidelines.