Claremore Daily Progress

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June 6, 2014

Some voters get more choices to cast early ballots

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Early voting options will expand during this month’s primary elections, though only for voters in two of the state’s most populous counties.
Cleveland and Tulsa counties will add early voting locations for the first time, while officials in Oklahoma County say they plan to expand for the general election in November.
A 2013 law allows the counties — all three of which have more than 100,000 registered voters — to run multiple polling places for early voting.
For now, more rural counties are excluded.
“My preference was to try this in the three largest counties and see how it works,” said Paul Ziriax, secretary of the state Election Board. “If it is successful, then we could always come back and revisit that and maybe make it optional for other counties to consider it.”
Oklahoma voters may cast ballots on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday leading to a state or federal election, but until now early voting has only been allowed at county election headquarters, said Ziriax. That’s meant long lines, and even longer drives for voters who don’t live near a county seat.
Opening multiple polls for early voting isn’t a new concept; other states, including Texas, already do it. But this will mark a first for Oklahoma.
“I sincerely hope this is a change that could help increase voter turnout,” said Ziriax. Nearly 2 million Oklahomans are registered to vote.
During the November 2012 general election, nearly half of more than 4,000 early voters in Cleveland County drove from the northern part of the county to Norman to cast ballots, said Anette Pretty, assistant election secretary for the county.
During this month’s early voting period — from June 19 to 21 — they may also vote at the Moore Norman Technology Center, which is closer to Oklahoma City, in addition to the election office in Norman.

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