Janice and Enoch Cox care enough about voting that they'll cast ballots even when they don't count.
"It's an honor, a responsibility and a privilege," Janice Cox, 70, said Monday morning after trying out the state's new voting machines at the Tulsa County Election Board.
Cox said she and her husband of nearly 50 years thought it would be fun to drive in from Skiatook to familiarize themselves with the new machines. The couple were among the few who showed up early Monday.
After completing a mock ballot, which asked voters to select the state's best role model, treat, athlete, sports team, musician and actor, Enoch Cox said the process was so simple that a caveman could do it.
"Since I don't see any cavemen running around in the lobby here, I can say that, can't I?" he quipped.
Paul Ziriax, the state Election Board secretary, said residents can visit their local county election board through Thursday to check out the new voting machines. The Tulsa County Election Board will make the new machines available to the public on Friday, as well.
Last year the state bought 2,800 new digital voting machines from Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas. The $16 million price tag covered the voting machines, software, training and maintenance.
The new machines will make it easier for the state to comply with the requirements set out in the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The law was passed, in part, to ensure that disabled voters could cast ballots privately and independently.
The voting machines are equipped with a device that allows blind and disabled people to vote. For example, quadriplegic people can use their sip and puff devices to vote. The machine also includes instructions in Braille and offers headphones for people who cannot read.
Most voters, however, will see little change in the process. Voters will still complete a paper ballot and place it in a machine for tabulation. The only difference is in the ballot itself. Voters will fill in a box instead of connect an arrow, and the box is to the left of the candidate's name instead of to the right.
After the ballot has been placed in the voting machine, an electronic image of the Oklahoma state flag will appear to indicate that the vote has been counted. If the ballot does not go through, a message will appear on the screen describing the problem.
"It ran smoothly; it looked easy," said Norman Losey, 74, after voting for Reba McEntire as the state's top musician.
Losey's wife, Wanda Losey, recently retired from the Election Board after nearly 20 years.
"I like it," she said. "For one thing, we still have our paper ballots, and with the screen, and with so many elderly voting, it (a message) pops up and tells them what they need to know next."
The new voting machines will be used for the first time during school board elections statewide Feb. 14.
Voters aren't the only people benefiting from the new machines. Shelly Boggs, the Tulsa County Election Board's assistant secretary, said the machines' new digital software should make tabulating votes quicker and easier.
"So, yes, barring all unforeseen things that can happen in an election, theoretically, you're going to be getting (result) reports faster," she said.
And for the first time, those results - including federal, state and municipal elections - will all be available on the state Election Board's website, Ziriax said.
For folks such as the Coxes, who value the vote, that should be good news.
"I get upset because they (people) don't vote," said Enoch Cox. "What do you think this is, anyway?"
Try the new machines
Residents are invited to try the state's new voting machines between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave.
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Original Print Headline: Voters make a test run
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