The Norman Transcript

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October 28, 2010

Early voting begins Friday

NORMAN — Early, in-person absentee voting opens 8 a.m. Friday at the Cleveland County Election Board, 641 E. Robinson.

Voters can get the task done 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Monday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the election board office. Tuesday, Cleveland County’s 89 polling places are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We’re always hoping for a good turnout, but if we judge it by what we’ve seen so far, we don’t expect a good turnout,” said Paula Roberts, Cleveland County Election Board secretary.

Roberts said the office phones are not ringing as they have in previous elections. And registration changes are fewer this year.

During the 2008 presidential election year, officials processed about 6,000 voter registration changes in October. This year, they’ve done about 1,200 changes.

Cleveland County has 144,433 registered voters. In 2006, another non-presidential year, 46 percent of those registered turned out. The 2008 presidential election brought a 70-percent turnout.

Statewide, there are more than 2 million registered voters, with about 56 percent of them casting ballots in 2008. In 2006, the turnout statewide was about 35 percent.

“We’re hoping for about 40 percent this year,” Roberts said. “It won’t be anything like the presidential election where we had lines downtown.”

Friday also will be the first test of a major election at the board’s new headquarters in the former county health department building on Robinson Street. The election board relocated from the courthouse during renovation into a county-owned former bank building downtown. That space is now used by the sheriff’s department.

“We’re a little nervous, but I think it will be OK,” she said.

Roberts said a two-person, bi-partisan absentee voting board will be on duty to assist each in-person voter.

“In-person absentee voters fill out an application form when they arrive at the office. They are not required to state a reason for voting in-person absentee,” she said. “They are required to swear that they have not voted a regular mail absentee ballot and that they will not vote at their polling places on election day.”

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