NORMAN — Although some voters are waiting upwards of three weeks to receive their mail-in ballots after requesting them, officials are not concerned due to safeguards in place.
Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Bryant Rains said officials have mailed out over 34,000 ballots for the November election. A tip from ProPublica’s Electionland project said some people in Cleveland County were waiting longer than usual to receive their mail-in ballots.
Moore resident Leslie Bonebreak has been voting by mail all of 2020 due to COVID-19, she said. Her mail-in voting experience had been a pleasant one all year, so when her ballot — which was mailed out on Sept. 25 — never came to her mailbox, she became worried.
“It’s really important to me as someone who has an autoimmune disease and does not want to be out and take risks out in public that this is the only way I can vote,” Bonebreak said.
Due to how long her first ballot has taken to get to her, Bonebreak said she went ahead and requested a second ballot and now plans on driving up and hand-delivering her absentee ballot in-person to the Cleveland County Election Board.
“If you feel that you’ve waited too long, we can send out a second set,” CCEB secretary Bryant Rains said. “We’re mailing out three times the amount of ballots we did last presidential election. It's a lot for us and the post office. We’re mailing out ballots every single day, even Saturday.”
Rains said postal officials are going out of their way to accommodate the heavy influx of ballots they’re mailing out and are making accommodations for the election board.
“It’s a lot of ballots we’re sending out back and forth, we’re working overtime mailing out ballots, the post office has started delivering mail on Saturdays so there’s a lot of work going in on both sides,” he said. “We’re going to get them all out.”
To help better identify ballots, the election board and the post office colored envelopes with ballots in them green. That not only allows them keep better track of them, but it also ensures those envelopes are top priority, Rains said.
“The state election board thought that it would be good to help identify the ballots readily by looking so they don’t get lost or don’t get misplaced or anything, and it has helped a lot,” he said.
Rains encourages voters who are concerned about their ballot to contact the election board.
“If a person feels like they’ve waited too long, please give us a call so we can send out an application for a new set,” he said.
If by chance a voter receives their first ballot after they requested their second one, Rains said to destroy the first one by shredding it. Voters can track their mail-in ballot by using the state election board’s OK Voter Portal.
The Transcript is one of many newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica to hear about the problems voters are running into at the polls during this election season. ProPublica’s ElectionLand project uses tips from voters to accurately report on what readers experience on and leading up to Election Day.
Let us know of any problems or concerns you have in regards to voting like changed voting locations, long lines, registration problems, purged voter rolls, broken machines and voter intimidation. You can help us. To let us know how your voting experience goes, here’s how to sign up and get in touch:
SMS: Text the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).
WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 1-850-909-8683.
Facebook Messenger: Go to m.me/electionland.
Complete this form to share your election experience with us so ProPublica and our partners can investigate.
Follow me @reeseg_3