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Tulsa County Dems call for Tulsa County Election Board vice chairman to recuse himself from election

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-24 12:11:03-04

TULSA, Okla. -- The Tulsa County Democratic Party is calling for the vice chairman of the Tulsa County Election Board to recuse himself from participating in this election.

 Some Tulsa voters are outraged after receiving an email signed by George Wiland, who has been active with local voter registration and the Republican Party of Tulsa County for years.

The email appears to sway voters to vote "No" on State Question 788, the legalization of medical marijuana.

With less than a week before the election, the email provided sample ballots and the GOP governor candidate's view of state question 788. The problem was that the email was signed by a sitting member of the Tulsa County Election Board, George Wiland.

Chairwoman of the Tulsa County Democratic party, Kimberly Fobbs said her party is outraged.

“I've never seen anything like this,” Fobbs said.

The email in question lists dates for early voting, attachments for republican and democrat sample ballots, and a statement about state question 788 for medical marijuana.

It also reads, “All top GOP candidates for governor… recommend a NO vote on this question, which is said to be an actual vote for 'recreational' marijuana."

“Every professional that I've talked to up and down the state today says this is just the most blatant and inappropriate example,” Fobbs said.

The email was signed “George Wiland, Vice Chair, Tulsa County Election Board.

Many view it as a lack of impartiality in letting voters decide the outcome of the state question without influence by a member of the county election board.

However, the county officials said Wiland was appointed by the republican party, so he is entitled to speak for republicans. He is not an employee of the Tulsa County Election Board. The county is made up of three-person election boards responsible to the Oklahoma State Election board for registering voters and governing elections for their counties.

Fobbs said this isn’t an ethics violation as some have called it.

“This has nothing to do with that,” she said. “What it has everything to do with is that we had our due diligence with both the state election board as well as the local election board, and the state statue is clear."

Oklahoma Statute, Title 26, Setion2-114 states “The State Election Board shall have the authority to remove any chair, vice-chair or any alternate member of any county election board at any time.”

Fobbs demands that Wiland resign before the primary Tuesday, but state officials said while the email was morally inappropriate, they will let the county oficials speak for the incident.

Wiland defends his actions, telling 2 Works for You the email was to provide education for voters with information about all parties.

He was able to access voter emails through his personal email, linked to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. Wiland said he is unsure of how many emails are listed, but the group has about 300 members. He dedicated his life to 37 years of federal service and is a member of the local chapter in Tulsa County.

He said to those who had questions about other candidate’s stance on SQ 788, he followed up with another email, providing the viewpoint of all candidates for governor.

Wiland said he is shocked by the response and in no way intended to advocate for or against the state question, but admits he should not have used his official title on the email.

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