The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 29, 2012

Can U.N. observers monitor Oklahoma elections?

EDMOND — This article is a continuation of last week’s column that answers some of the questions I am receiving about next week’s elections.

One constituent asked about in-person absentee voting. This is an option for those who cannot go to their precinct on election day. In-person absentee voting takes place on the Friday (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturday (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Monday (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) before the election on Nov. 6. Oklahoma County voters may cast in-person absentee ballots at the Oklahoma County Election Board at 4201 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City. This is just a bit south of I-44 on Lincoln. Logan County residents may vote at the Logan County Election Board at 224 E. Vilas in Guthrie. The Logan County Election Board is across the street to the west of the sheriff's office.

Another voter asked what identification would be required in order to vote. Two years ago, Oklahoma voters approved a new voter identification law. This important law requires voters to prove their identity prior to voting. This can be done with a driver’s license, government-issued photo ID or the voter ID card issued by the county election board.

One writer asked if Oklahoma elections could be monitored by an observer from organizations affiliated with the United Nations. This question was prompted after news stories reported that observers with a U.N.-affiliated organization known as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be observing next week’s elections at locations throughout the United States.

Oklahoma’s poll watching law does not have a provision for allowing an observer to observe voters as they vote.

Section 7-130 of Title 26 of Oklahoma law speaks to this issue. In order to qualify as a poll watcher, an individual must be appointed by either a candidate for office or a political party. On the morning of election day, prior to the opening of the precinct, the watcher may observe the setup of the polling machine and take note of the starting serial numbers on the ballots to be issued. He then must leave the precinct before voting commences. Watchers are not allowed to remain at the polling place during voting hours. After 7 p.m., when the polling place closes, the watcher may return to the precinct and verify the ending serial numbers of each ballot book.

I do not believe there is any provision of law that would allow observers to enter into a polling location during voting hours. And, unless a watcher receives an appointment from either a candidate or one of the three recognized political parties, there shouldn’t be a mechanism for an observer to enter an Oklahoma polling location before or after the precinct closes.

I hope these articles have been helpful in answering questions some of the local residents have had about the upcoming voting process.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at

facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

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Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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