Early voting begins, election officials anticipate moderate turnout

Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 23-Jul-2010

State election officials anticipate at least moderate turnout for Tuesday’s primary election.

Early voting, or walk-in absentees, began around Oklahoma this morning (Friday, July 23). Increasingly popular in recent years, the opportunity is given to registered voters to cast ballots at the election board in county seats across the state.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, in an interview today (Friday, July 23) with CapitolBeatOK, said he had analyzed the last four gubernatorial elections (2006, 2002, 1998 and 1994). Turnout was “unsurprisingly, highest in the two years where there was an open seat in the governor’s race.” That is the case this year, with Governor Brad Henry exiting the political stage, and with both major parties holding primaries in multiple statewide races, including for governor.

Ziriax said at this point his “guesstimate” was the state would see moderate voter turnout. “I’m hopeful there will be at least a half-million voters by the time we’re done on Tuesday,” Ziriax said.

Turnout in that range would exceed both 2006 (when Henry won a second term) and 1998 (when Frank Keating ran for reelection and won). Ziriax said the number of statewide competitive primaries means a higher-than-moderate turnout is not out of the question.

In Oklahoma City, early voting began at 8 a.m. and ran until 6 p.m. today at the county election board at 4201 N. Lincoln Boulevard. The process continues from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, July 24). Then, on Monday Oklahoma County voters can cast early ballots from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

According to a release from the office of Oklahoma County election board secretary Doug Sanderson, “A two-member, bipartisan Absentee Voting Board will be on duty those days to assist in-person absentee voters.”

The statewide primary election is next Tuesday, July 27. Voters who do not know where their regular polling place is located can find it online at www.elections.ok.gov, at the website of the state election board run by Mr. Ziriax and his staff. Look for the “Frequently asked question” section.