Oklahoma election officials are hoping the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat doesn't go to a seventh and final game.
If needed, the seventh game is scheduled for June 26, when Democrats and Republicans in Oklahoma head to the polls to vote for various local, state and federal offices. The NBA Finals is a best-of-seven series.
“I'm not worried about it either way, I think it will be over in five or six games,” state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.
A seventh game shouldn't be a problem for voters because the polls close at 7 p.m., an hour before the game is scheduled to start, he said. People also can vote before the possible seventh game by casting an absentee ballot or by voting early in person at their county election board offices.
“From the perspective of voters, I don't really think there's a problem at all,” he said. “Our polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polls close a full hour before tipoff so fans of the Thunder who also want to do their civic duty by voting will have plenty of time to do that on Election Day. Any fans who are concerned about that, of course, can vote by absentee or take advantage of the early voting that starts prior to the election.”
The deadline to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail is June 20. Voters may vote early on the Friday, Saturday and Monday before the June 26 primary elections.
Only registered Republican and Democratic voters may cast ballots in the June 26 elections. Only one statewide race — a seat on the state's utility-regulating body — is on the ballot and that involves two GOP candidates. Various primary races involving legislative and county candidates will be decided that day.
The closest voting precinct to the Chesapeake Energy Arena is First Church, which is several blocks north and west of the Thunder's home court, so the increased activity downtown if there is a seventh game shouldn't be a problem, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson said.
“We don't have any that are real close,” said Sanderson, who thinks the Thunder will win the series before it gets to a seventh game. “We don't anticipate that that would cause any traffic problems in that regard.”
In Oklahoma County, about half the registered voters are eligible to vote June 26, he said.
“All Republicans will have something to vote on, but not all Democrats will be selecting nominees,” Sanderson said.
Democratic contests in Oklahoma County are only in the 4th Congressional District and state House District 88, he said.
“I think it will be comparable to what we saw in the presidential preferential primary — around 30 to 33 percent (turnout),” Sanderson said.
Democrats do not have a statewide primary, but have primaries in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th congressional districts as well as numerous state legislative and county offices.
There may be peeking
Ziriax said most precinct workers should be able to go home shortly after the polls close and catch most of the game. Precinct inspectors and those who drive the ballots and ballot scanners to the county election board offices will have to work a couple of hours after the polls close. State and county election board workers will stay at their posts until the votes are tallied.
“We have duties to perform when it comes to conducting elections,” he said. “I think all of us know when we sign up for these jobs we have to perform our duties regardless of the circumstances.
“I would not be truthful with you if I told you we would never take a peek at the score if there's a game on, but we'll be focused on doing our jobs and doing them correctly,” Ziriax said.