Nov 2020 Voting

A voter fills out their ballot Tuesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

This past week President Donald Trump suggested supporters go to the polls and act as “poll watchers” in the upcoming November election to protect against voter fraud.

Doing so in Oklahoma is illegal, and could land people in legal trouble.

Trump has challenged the integrity of the upcoming election by mounting claims of widespread “voter fraud.” Trump urged his supporters to act as poll watchers at local polling locations near the end of Tuesday’s presidential debate.

“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” Trump said during his debate against Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In Oklahoma, people who try and act as poll watchers could face legal consequences, Oklahoma State Election Board spokesperson Misha Mohr said.

“... It is crime for any unauthorized person to remain within 50 feet of a ballot box while an election is in progress,” Mohr said in a statement. “It [is] also unlawful for any person other than election officials and voters to be inside the election enclosure, the area where voters are checked in, issued ballots, and vote.”

Doing this is a misdemeanor offense, according to an Oklahoma state statute.

“Any person who electioneers within three hundred (300) feet of any ballot box while an election is in progress, and any person except election officials and other persons authorized by law who remains within fifty (50) feet of any ballot box while an election is in progress, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor,” the statute reads.

State law does allow candidates and recognized political parties to have an authorized observer present before the polls open and after the polls close, Mohr said.

“... Such watchers cannot be present at the polling place at other times,” Mohr said in the statement. “A commission for a poll watcher must be filed with the Secretary of the County Election Board no later than 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the election.”

Kathy Singer, assistant secretary of the Cleveland County Election Board, said the election officials have taken all precautions to ensure the safety and security of this election.

“After the polls close, all ballots go straight into sheriff custody and we receive the mobile ballot box, which is a flashdrive,” Singer said.

The ballots are then locked in a truck and are not removed unless a judge orders a recount, in which case the ballots would then be taken to the courthouse, Singer said. Once all the votes get confirmed, the ballots return to the election board where they are held for at least two years.

“The line of custody and security of the ballots is a big deal to us,” Singer said.

The Transcript is one of many newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica to hear about the problems voters are running into at the polls during this election season. ProPublica’s ElectionLand project uses tips from voters to accurately report on what readers experience on and leading up to Election Day.

Let us know of any problems or concerns you have in regards to voting like changed voting locations, long lines, registration problems, purged voter rolls, broken machines and voter intimidation. You can help us. To let us know how your voting experience goes, here’s how to sign up and get in touch:

SMS: Text the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).

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Complete this form to share your election experience with us so ProPublica and our partners can investigate.

Reese Gorman

366-3532

Follow me @reeseg_3

rgorman@normantranscript.com

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