By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
With a hotly contested presidential race and 10,500 more registered voters than in 2016, Canadian County citizens are being advised what to expect when they cast their ballots in November’s presidential election.
“You’re going to need to be prepared to stand in line and don’t call the county election board to complain about it,” Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said. “You might be tying up one of five (phone) lines that might be desperately needed by a precinct official who needs help.”
President Donald Trump leads the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden heads the Democrats as the Tuesday, Nov. 3 general election nears. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 50 polling places across Canadian County.
Canadian County has about 86,000 registered voters, and voter turnout historically peaks during presidential election years.
There were 75,396 registered voters in Canadian County during the last presidential election in November 2016. The voter turnout was 74.1%, with 55,870 ballots cast across the county.
Fast forward four years, and President Trump won Canadian County’s “Super Tuesday” Republican presidential primary by a 92.78% margin while Biden won the Democrat primary by 38.19% in county precincts.
Republicans cast 13,649 votes and Democrats tallied 9,057 votes in that March primary.
Those ballot numbers are expected to increase exponentially by the time the Nov. 3rd presidential election concludes.
Canadian County Election Board personnel have been working overtime in recent weeks processing voter registration applications and absentee ballots as Nov. 3 looms.
Canadian County voter registration has increased by about 1,500 in the past month alone.
ABSENTEE OR IN-PERSON?
Meanwhile, the Canadian County Election Board already has mailed out more than 10,000 absentee ballots to registered voters who requested them.
Canadian County’s election board chief expects many voters who applied to vote absentee or by mail will change their minds and decide to cast their ballots in-person Nov. 3 at local voting precincts.
Armold described what happens in that circumstance.
“When they get to their polling place, beside their name in the (voter) registry it’s going to say, ‘absentee ballot requested’,” she shared. “That’s a flag to my precinct official that they did request absentee ballots.”
If that voter wants to vote in-person on election day instead of absentee, they must sign an Absentee Voter Affidavit form to swear they did not vote by a mail-in ballot.
“They will sign the registry on top of the message and then they’ll be issued a ballot at the polling place,” Armold explained.
Any absentee ballot a voter was previously issued must be torn up and thrown away at home.
“Don’t take them to the precinct officials and hand them in,” Armold advised.
By law, nobody may carry a ballot into or out of a polling place during an election.