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Tulsa County Election Board staff prepares to keep votes and voters safe in upcoming elections

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 12:41:00-04

TULSA, Okla. — The next big election for Green County is just weeks away on Aug. 25.

The big-ticket item voters will be deciding—who’s the City of Tulsa's next mayor.

While voters are figuring out how to cast their vote for, the Tulsa County Election Board staff is working on ways to keep the community safe at the polls.

Tulsa County Election Board staff are usually checking and double-checking ballot box locks and calibrating machines, a few weeks before an election, but for the second time this year, Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman says they are checking something else.

“We are taking in trucks of PPE not only for our employees that are working here in the building but also for our precinct officials at each individual precinct," Freeman said.

All to keep Tulsa voters safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have CDC regulations in place, you know 6 foot distancing, and folks who are using hand sanitizer and wiping down the surfaces so that voters can be safe," Freeman said.

Also to keep voters safe, the board is reminding the public of their options for voting.

“Obviously, we are going to encourage people to use absentee voting if they feel uncomfortable voting and many people have," Freeman said.

The deadline to turn in absentee voting requests is at 5 p.m. on Aug. 18.

Freeman says many people have already jumped on that option this year, and to support that, they’re beefing up staff and space.

“We literally had to switch out locations of the absentee department to a bigger room in our facility to store and receive that much mail and we are doing that now," Freeman said.

However, Freeman says they still encourage the community to vote the way they feel the most comfortable doing so, but for those who’d like to still cast their ballot in person, she reminds them to be prepared the day before the big election days.

“If you’re going to vote on election day please call in advance to make sure you’re going to the right precinct location, because in some cases, your precinct location will have changed,” Freeman said. "There are some locations that aren't open because they did not want to have that much foot traffic during the pandemic."

COVID-19 safety precautions have also prevented some staff from volunteering this year.

“A lot of our precinct officials that were elderly or at risk or perhaps had some underlying health conditions that would make them more vulnerable," Freeman said. "So, anyone who is interested in coming in and helping us out at the polls, we could use your help.”

Gwen says they can never have enough people to help on election day because the more people that come, the more people can help clean and keep the lines moving smoothly and, hopefully, a bit faster.

"The position is paid as required by state law," Freeman said. "But when we had people step up in June, it was just really nice to see and have that help."

To become a poll monitor, visit the Tulsa County Election Board at 555 North Denver Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103.

For more information about the upcoming election, click here.

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