The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 6, 2014

Okla. Election Board hopes multiple sites for early voting will alleviate long wait times

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma State Election Board is trying out a plan in the state’s largest counties to alleviate inconvenience and lines during early voting.

Under the provisions of a 2013 law, Cleveland, Tulsa and Oklahoma counties can run multiple polling places during the early voting period.

Previously, all 77 state counties were allowed to only have early voting at the county election board office.

That meant people living outside of the county seat had to drive — in some cases, quite a distance — to vote early.

It also meant election boards had to deal with long lines of potential voters. Roy Schneider, Garfield County Election Board secretary, said his office has had to deal wait times up to 45 minutes.

With the 2013 law, state election board officials are hoping adding other polling places for early voting will cut down on the problems.

If it proves successful, they could come back and get the law changed to allow other counties the option of having more than one site for early voting.

It’s costly to open up polling places for early voting, including costs for staffing each site.

However, it would be a good thing to at least give other counties in Oklahoma the option.

It wouldn’t be something that has to be done for every election. We all know voters don’t turn out in high numbers for many elections.

But, we also know during general elections, for instance, people turn out in high numbers.

Giving county election officials, who know the trends in voting, the option of having more than one site for early voting makes sense.

We hope state officials look at how things work in Cleveland, Tulsa and Oklahoma counties and come back and revisit the issue, with an eye to allowing smaller counties the same option.

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