State officials are working to help Oklahomans vote safely this fall—whether from home or at the polls—amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot without giving a reason, but it must be notarized, with some exceptions. New this year: Certain voters who meet COVID-19-related criteria, such as testing positive or having been tested and self-isolating while waiting for results, can forgo the notarization but must have two witness signatures.
A new law passed earlier this year allows those applying for absentee ballots to either submit a copy of their valid ID or have the application notarized. This provision is in place when the governor has declared a COVID-19 related emergency 45 days before an election. The rule was in effect for the primary elections and will apply to the November general election.
AARP Oklahoma plans to post a video explaining absentee voting at aarp.org/ok.
“We want to make sure our members vote, and vote safely,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma’s state director.
Historically, few Sooner State voters have embraced absentee voting, Voskuhl said. “They like going to the polls, seeing their neighbors.”
But the pandemic has many reconsidering. More than 141,000 voters requested absentee ballots for the June 30 primary, compared with 101,253 absentee ballots cast in 2016’s presidential election.
The state is also working to make in-person voting as safe as possible.
Three days of early voting at county election board offices—from Thursday, Oct. 29, to Saturday, Oct. 31—are expected to help limit crowds on Election Day.
Workers at polling sites will wear masks, eye protection and gloves while keeping a 6-foot distance from voters and frequently sanitizing surfaces. Voters are also encouraged to wear masks.
Guidelines in place for the June primary led to positive reports about polling-site safety, Voskuhl said.
AARP Oklahoma is also focusing on key issues ahead of Election Day, including nursing home safety, prescription drug prices, and maintaining the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.
“We want to make sure that politicians know what’s important to older adults,” Voskuhl said.
Get election information and updates at aarp.org/OKvotes.
Linda Lamb is a writer living in Columbia, South Carolina.
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This story is provided by AARP Oklahoma. Visit the AARP Oklahoma page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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