By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Canadian County’s former elections chief has received a deferred sentence and fine in a criminal case stemming from uncounted votes in a 2020 election.
El Reno’s Wanda Armold, 76, pleaded guilty June 28 in Canadian County District Court to the charge of failure to perform duties. Armold is former secretary of the Canadian County Election Board.
The misdemeanor was filed Jan. 11 by Angela C. Marsee, the district attorney for Beckham, Custer, Ellis, Roger Mills, and Washita counties.
Armold “did willfully fail to perform her lawful duty, by failing to follow established procedures to timely audit the 2020 primary election and causing votes to not be counted,” according to the charging document.
While this failure to perform the audit “was not for purposes of fraud or to alter the outcome of the election” – and would not have changed the final results – it did cause 1,272 votes to not be counted, DA Marsee said.
The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
“During a consensual interview with Secretary Armold, she admitted that she did not perform the required audit because it was a long election, and everyone was tired,” Lt. Scott Kendrick wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit.
“The required audits did not occur until November 17, 2020. The election was certified by the State Election Board on November 10, 2020. There is no mechanism in place to recertify or decertify an election in Oklahoma.”
The 1,272 uncounted votes were from Canadian County polling precinct 303 in Mustang.
Armold appeared with her attorney Jay Husband for a June 28th hearing in Canadian County District Court.
As part of a plea agreement, Armold received a one-year deferred sentence and a $1,272 fine – $1 for each uncounted vote.
She is “prohibited from volunteering or working in an election board or other public office,” according to Judge Halley’s court minute.
Armold was ordered to pay a $30 victim’s compensation assessment and court costs.
Armold violated Title 26, Section 16-114 of Oklahoma State Statutes: “Any member or employee of a county election board, absentee voting board or any precinct official who willfully fails to perform his or her lawful duty shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Failure to perform duties is punishable by not more than one year in county jail and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.