By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Do your homework and know how you will vote before you go into your polling place, Garfield County Election Board Secretary Roy Schneider advised residents Monday.
Schneider spoke to Enid Rotary Club the day before the election, saying emotions were running high on both sides of the political spectrum. He said the presidential election will create more interest than normal elections, and many people will be casting ballots.
Schneider said if voters study the sample ballots and decide how they are going to vote, it will take them less time in the polling place and will shorten the overall time for everyone.
In-person absentee voting has been heavy, recording about 100 people per hour Friday and Saturday, and slowing slightly Monday, Schneider said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he said.
Of Garfield County’s 29,845 registered voters, 17,837 are Republicans, 8,979 are Democrats and 3,029 are independents. Garfield County ranks 10th in terms of registered voters, Schneider said.
“This has been the busiest, craziest year for elections in history,” he said.
All 77 county election boards received new voting machines and software, and staff had to be trained in how to use them. In addition, there were new districts due to redistricting, a new staff to train, and this will be the sixth election this year. Many older election workers decided to retire rather than learn the new system.
“Be patient with the election officials tomorrow,” Schneider said. “There will be long lines, and they are well trained. They know what they are doing.”
Schneider said he is concerned about today’s election, because those who only vote in presidential elections may not have kept their voter registration updated. Voters might have married and changed their name or address without notifying the election board.
However, residents only need to present their voter identification card to vote: No other identification is necessary. In the absence of a voter identification card, some type of government-issued identification with photo will be necessary.
Schneider also is concerned people who only vote in presidential elections may not have thought about the other races: the congressional election, judicial retention ballots and state questions. That may take them longer to vote and hold up the process, he said.
Schneider said he does not know how long it will take to know the outcome of today’s races, but said it won’t take long in Oklahoma.
He also cannot determine, based on early voting, whether this will be a record turnout in Garfield County. In 2008, there were about 2,800 absentee votes, and he said there are about that number this time, too.
Schneider told Rotarians he sees his mission as twofold: to ensure the integrity of votes and the availability of the process.
“I want to see everyone who is eligible to vote have the availability to vote, no matter what their party or situation,” he said.
Among the changes in the voting system this year is the way the electronic process is done. Schneider held up a flash drive and referred to it as a “mobile ballot box”; There is one in each voting machine, and voting is electronically recorded, so the results are available locally and at the state level. Election workers also keep the paper ballots for two years.