As the months pass and the elections in November approach, many individuals may not be aware of potential deadlines that affect their eligibility to vote in the upcoming election.
Who Can Register to Vote
In Oklahoma, you are eligible to register to vote if you are citizen of the United States, a resident of Oklahoma, and at least eighteen (18) years old. However, you may be eligible to pre-register if you are at least 17½ years old and meet all of the eligibility requirements. Individuals who qualify for preregistration will be allowed to vote when they turn 18 and their county election board has approved their application.
Additionally, in Oklahoma persons convicted of a felony may register to vote when they have fully served their sentences, including any term of incarceration, parole or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court.
Individuals who have been deemed to be incapacitated by a court will also be ineligible to register to vote in Oklahoma. However, once a person has their capacity restored they will again be eligible to vote.
How to Register to Vote
Oklahoma requires all persons who want to register to vote to fill out a voter registration application and send it to their county election board office. A second option is hand-delivering a copy of your application to the county election board. However, with the added precautions many agencies and businesses are taking due to the ongoing pandemic, you may want to verify that your local county election board is still accepting hand-delivered applications before attempting to hand-deliver an application.
You will not become a registered voter until the election board in your county approves your application. Once your application has been approved, the county election board will mail you a voter identification card that includes your name, address, political affiliation, and your polling place. If your application cannot be approved, you will receive a letter from the county election board detailing why it was not approved and the steps you can take to become registered to vote.
Where to Find a Voter Registration Application
These forms are available at your County Election Board office, post offices, tag agencies, libraries and many other public locations. You may also download a pdf copy of the application form by accessing the ok.gov website. The last and newest way you may access an application form is to use the OK Voter Portal’s Voter Registration Wizard, which is also located on the ok.gov website. The OK Voter Portal will allow you to fill out the form using a computer. You will then need to print the document, sign it, and mail it to your county election board office. In Oklahoma, there is no method allowing for online registration.
Updating or Changing Your Registration
Once you have registered to vote, you are able to change and/or update your registration. Currently, Oklahoma offers two ways to update and/or change your voter registration address, name, or party affiliation. Changes can currently be made by using the online OK Voter Portal Wizard or by using a paper Voter Registration Application.
If a registered Oklahoma voter has not moved to a different county, then they will be able to access the OK Voter Portal to make changes. However, if the voter has moved to a different county, they will be required to submit any updates and/or changes by using a paper voter registration application.
You can make changes and/or update your voter registration at almost any time. The only time you may not change your political affiliation is from April 1 through August 31 in any even-numbered year. The last day for changes before this period is March 31 and the first day you may make changes after this period is September 1.
When to Register
You may submit a voter registration application at any time; however, to be eligible to vote in an election you must register twenty-five (25) days prior to the date of the election.
Any application received twenty-four (24) or fewer days before the date of an election will not be processed until after that election.
November 3, 2020, is the date of the next election. This means that the last day to register to vote is October 9, 2020.
Oklahoma allows registered voters to request and vote by absentee ballot. Oklahoma offers a few different methods for getting an absentee ballot.
You may apply for an absentee ballot by writing to the Election Board, by accessing the application on the OK Voter Portal, downloading a copy of the application from the ok.gov website, or by obtaining a copy of the application from your county election board.
Oklahoma also allows a registered voter to write a letter to their county election board asking to apply for an absentee ballot. If using this method, the letter must contain the following; your name, your birth date, the address at which you are registered to vote, the election(s) for which you are requesting an absentee ballot, the address to which the absentee ballot should be mailed, and your signature.
If your absentee ballot application is accepted, your county election board will mail your packet to you. This packet will include your absentee ballot; instructions for voting, preparing, and returning your ballot; and an envelope for you to return the ballot to the county election board.
It is important to keep in mind that the standard absentee ballot the voter’s signature will need to be notarized. However, during the declared state of emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an absentee voter may include a copy of their voter ID card with the absentee ballot instead of having it notarized.
If you are voting by absentee ballot, the ballot needs to be returned to the county election board, by U.S. mail or by a private mail service with delivery documentation, by 7:00 p.m. on the date of the election to be counted. It is recommended that you mail your absentee ballot to your county election board at least one (1) week before the election to ensure that it arrives in time to be counted.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election. Because the election is on November 3, 2020, the last day to request an absentee ballot will be October 27, 2020.
Another option for voting in Oklahoma is early voting. Registered voters can vote early at their local county election board office. However, with the added precautions many agencies and businesses are taking due to the ongoing pandemic, you may want to verify that your local county election board is still allowing for early voting.
Early voting typically occurs from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday and Friday before the election. Additionally for state and federal elections, early voting is available from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the election. Because the election is on November 3, 2020, early voting will be available Thursday, October 29, 8:00 a.m-6:00 p.m., Friday, October 30, 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 31, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Register to vote today so you do not miss your chance to vote in the 2020 election.