Pittsburg County Election Board Secretary Tonya Barnes talks about expiration of the state's Temporary Absentee Ballot Verification Option and what voters wanting to vote by standard absentee ballot are now required to do.

1. What is the status of voting by absentee ballot in Oklahoma in 2021?

The Temporary Absentee Ballot Verification Option which was put in place by state legislators last year has expired.

2. Why was the Temporary Absentee Ballot Verification Option available last year?

The temporary verification option was part of Senate Bill 210, which was passed in the spring of 2020 in response to the pandemic. The bill gave Oklahoma voters the option to include a copy of their valid ID in lieu of a notarized or witnessed signature on their absentee ballot affidavit. Certain provisions of the bill were valid for the 2020 election year only and expired in December.

3. What will voters receive who apply for absentee ballots this year?

Voters who request absentee ballots in 2021 will receive updated absentee ballot instructions with their balloting material and should read them thoroughly before placing their ballot in the mail.

4. Will absentee ballots have to be notarized in 2021?

Standard absentee ballot affidavits are required to be notarized. “Physically incapacitated” absentee ballot affidavits must have the voter’s signature witnessed by two people.

In other words, voters will submit their absentee ballots the same way they did prior to Senate Bill 210. As always, we recommend voters allow themselves plenty of time to receive, vote, and return their ballots.

5. How can voters obtain absentee ballots?

Voters can request absentee ballots online using the OK Voter Portal on the State Election Board website at https://oklahoma.gov/elections/ovp.html or pick up an application from the County Election Board. A list of notaries can be found on the State Election Board website at https://oklahoma.gov/elections/voter-info/absentee-voting/notary-services.html.

For more information, voters can contact the Pittsburg County Election Board at 918-423-3877 or pittsburgcounty@elections.ok.gov. The Election Board is  at 109 E. Carl Albert Parkway Room 101 McAlester, OK 74501. Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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