Steady stream of voters cast ballots early in Tulsa
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 7:11 AM
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Tulsa County residents lined up and waited to be among the first Oklahomans to cast their ballots in the presidential election Friday, the state's first day of in-person absentee voting.
About 150 people were waiting when Tulsa County Election Board officials opened the front door of their office at 555 N. Denver Ave. at 8 a.m. Friday, said Shelly Boggs, assistant secretary of the Election Board.
The flow of voters was heavy and steady, she said, adding that "this is wonderful!"
By midmorning, the Election Board was handling about 330 voters an hour with a line that stretched out the door, through the parking lot and down the sidewalk.
For most of the morning, the wait to get a ballot was about half an hour.
In 2008, the line stretched even farther, circling the block and coming back to the Election Board's exit door, Boggs said.
"We might get there before Monday night," she said.
By the end of balloting Friday, Tulsa County officials had accepted 3,737 ballots, Boggs said.
In 2008, 11,500 people voted in Tulsa County in the three days of early voting, records show. Statewide, 119,482 people voted early that year - a little more than 8 percent of the total turnout in the state.
Friday's early voting went smoothly statewide, said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax.
It's too early to say if this year's early turnout will rival the 2008 levels, but it seems to be on pace to be at least the heaviest turnout since that vote, Ziriax said.
"I'm very pleased. We're always pleased when turnout is good," he said. "We've had some good weather, and it looks like it's going to continue that way. We're hoping that leads to good turnout every day for the election."
At the Tulsa election site, Friday's warm weather attracted a broad spectrum of early voters. There were young voters wearing shorts and T-shirts and older voters using walkers and canes.
Election Board officials policed the line, making sure that only registered Tulsa County voters were there and handing out the simple application that each early voter had to fill out.
Boggs said there were no incidents in the early voting process.
For more of the voters Friday, the biggest problem was finding a place to park.
The Election Board parking lot filled early with voters and precinct workers picking up equipment for Tuesday's balloting. Streets around the Election Board were filled with parked cars, and traffic around the area was heavy.
In-person voters had to abide by the same photo ID laws required of all Oklahoma voters. State law requires a government or tribally issued photo identification card with an expiration date or a county election board-issued voter registration card. Voters who do not have acceptable ID can still vote through provisional ballots.
Before voting, the early voters had to sign an agreement not to attempt to vote again at their precinct on Election Day. Boggs said the penalty for violating the law and voting twice is steep and that the county would catch anyone who tried to get away with it.
There seemed to be few complaints from Friday's early voters.
After she finished voting, Tulsan Cathy Foster said she was pleased with the process.
She said she had never used the in-person absentee voting process before but because she won't be able to get to her precinct on Tuesday, she and her husband decided to try it.
"I wouldn't miss a presidential election, for sure," she said.
Where to vote
Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at county election board offices in Oklahoma. In Tulsa County, the Election Board office is at 555 N. Denver Ave.
On Tuesday, the only place to vote is at local precincts, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To find your precinct, go to the State Election Board website: tulsaworld.com/votinglocator.
Original Print Headline: Eager to vote
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Joan Pringle (left) waits in line to vote at the Tulsa County Election Board on Friday. She is filling out an application for in-person absentee voting. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Anna Berry waits for her daughter to finish voting at the Tulsa County Election Board on Friday. Berry also voted. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Friends Ruth Justus and George Cluck walk to their car after casting their votes early Friday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World