Oklahoma voters head to the polls

Tuesday's ballot features the presidential race and all five congressional seats are contested. Oklahomans will be asked to retain appellate court judges and decide six state questions; many will also cast ballots in state legislative and county official races.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: November 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012

Now it's the voters' turn to be heard.

After months of candidates ranging from those seeking a county post to the highest office in the land talking about why they should get elected, Oklahoma voters go to the polls Tuesday to accept or reject those arguments.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

A heavy turnout is expected, typical during a presidential election. Long lines have been common during early voting Friday, Saturday and Monday at the county election board offices in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa.

Lines also have formed in several rural county election boards.

“If you live in a metropolitan area or a heavily populated area, don't plan on getting in and out of your precinct in 10 or 15 minutes,” Oklahoma election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “I would plan on a considerably longer time.”

Voters may want to avoid peak voting hours, he said. Voters can save time by going to the polls 9 to 11 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Some counties have run short on absentee ballots, which are used during the early voting days, he said.

“Luckily with our new voting system, there is the ability for county election boards to print ballots on demand in a critical situation,” Ziriax said. “That ensures we won't run short.”

Ziriax said voters who are at the polls by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Doors will close at 7 p.m., but polling voting officials will stay until the last voter has cast a ballot, he said.

“If we have really some long lines, there could be some people who are still voting maybe an hour after the polls closed,” Ziriax said.

Personal notes

Voting will go faster if voters make personal notes about how they want to vote, he said. They can take the notes into the polling booth, but they can only use them personally. It is against the law to share notes with other voters.

All registered voters, whether they're Democrats, Republicans or independents, may vote in Tuesday's election. Independent voters were not allowed to vote in the June 26 primary elections or the Aug. 28 primary runoff elections.

While it will be late Tuesday until the fate of some races are known, it's no suspense which presidential candidate will win Oklahoma's seven Electoral College electors.

Polls show Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with a safe lead over President Barack Obama.

Republican voter registration numbers have steadily increased the past 50 years; the last Democrat to win Oklahoma was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

The uncertainty is whether the president will win any of Oklahoma's 77 counties Tuesday. He failed to win any in 2008.

Democrats are hoping the president can win a county or two, noting that Romney finished second in Oklahoma's presidential preferential primary in March.

Congressional races

Two hotly contested congressional races in the eastern part of the state also are expected to bring voters to the polls. A Republican win in the 2nd Congressional District would give the GOP control of Oklahoma's congressional delegation for the first time since 2000.

A win by Republican Markwayne Mullin, of Westville, over Democrat Rob Wallace, of Fort Gibson, would strengthen Oklahoma's claim to be the reddest state in the nation. All five U.S. House seats from Oklahoma are on Tuesday's ballot, but the 2nd District race is expected to be the closest. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, is not seeking re-election.

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