By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Long lines are expected as early voting starts Thursday for this year’s general election.
Canadian County voters may cast their ballots early from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Canadian County Election Board office, 200 S Bickford in El Reno.
Voting precincts across Canadian County will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 3 for the general election.
A hotly contested presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden heads the ballot.
“People are going to have to stand in line – whether they come here for early voting or go to their polling place on election day Nov. 3,” Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said. “We’re going to do the best we can do with what we have to work with.
“I need a building that’s twice as big, but I don’t have it.”
More than 5,000 Canadian County residents voted early during the last presidential election four years ago.
“In 2016, the line wrapped around the Petree Plaza and all the way back around to the other side of my building,” Armold recalled.
“I anticipate the wait line being long. I hope the weather is nice because we are practicing social distancing.”
Voters on walkers or wheelchairs will be permitted to move to the front of the line.
“In 2016, we mailed out over 5,000 ballots and we’ve already mailed out well over 14,000 for this election,” Armold noted.
Early voting is designed for someone who is unexpectedly called out of town and cannot be at their polling place on election day.
“I cannot say it’s more convenient than going to your polling place because you do have to stand in line,” Armold said.
“I don’t know that there is an advantage to early voting, unless it’s that Tuesday is not a good day for you, or you hear the weather is going to be bad on Tuesday.”
Due to COVID-19, there is now a glass barrier on the front counter inside the election board office to separate employees and workers from the voters.
Voting booths inside Canadian County’s election office are spaced six feet apart and only 10 people are allowed in the lobby at a time.
During next week’s early voting, one voter will be allowed inside when another voter leaves the office.
The general election ballot is 17 inches long, including county, state and national races plus two state questions on the back.
Nearly half of Canadian County’s voters, those who live in Oklahoma City limits, will be issued a second 17-inch ballot with nine Oklahoma City charter change questions.
“It’s going to take them awhile to vote unless they have either viewed their sample ballots online or taken the initiative to see what the ballot looks like and be prepared to vote it,” Armold said.
People can view their sample ballots and voter information at http://www.ok.gov/elections