Area residents who regularly participate in “early voting” should make a note of changes to the process before trying to cast ballots in future elections.
A new state law, effective Nov. 1, changed the dates and times Oklahoma voters have come to expect for in-person, “early” absentee voting.
“Starting this November, early voting days in Oklahoma have changed from Friday and Monday to Thursday and Friday,” said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. “The hours for early voting remain 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but early voting on Monday has been discontinued.”
The changes are the result of the 2013 passage by the Oklahoma Legislature of Senate Bill 869, signed into law last May.
In addition, Saturdays will continue to be early voting days for all state and federal elections, the exception being special elections, which will not have a Saturday option. Hours for Saturday voting will also change from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
During federal and state elections when voter turnout is often the heaviest, the Saturday early voting option provides voters with a thir opportunity to vote early.
“These changes will help county election board officials place their focus entirely on election day preparations, instead of conducting early voting during the day, immediately preceeding an election,” said Ziriax.
Newly-minted Cherokee County Election Board Secretary Mary Kay
Election Board Secretary Mary Kaye Masters-Jobe took the helm officially Oct. 5, and said Cherokee County has a large number of voters who participate in “early” ballot casting. Despite the changes, Masters-Jobe doesn’t anticipate any problems.
“We are big on early voting here,” she said. “I don’t think it should be a problem. If we get the word out in the right way, it should go smoothy. We have a number of announcements planned, plus it’s posted on the front door here at the election board office.”
The first election the new rule will affect is the Feb. 11, 2014, annual school election. No Saturday voting will be provided.
“Saturday voting will only be available for the elections scheduled for June, August and November 2014,” said Jobe.
The filing period for the annual school election runs Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 2-4.
For information about changes to in -person absentee voting, call the Cherokee County Election Board at (918) 456-2261.