Oklahoma precinct worker opens home to displaced voters

Ann Tubbs, 71, has been working elections in Oklahoma's Comanche County for almost three decades, but Tuesday was the first time she was able to watch TV on her living room set during lulls in voting.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: February 13, 2013
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— When the key didn't work Monday at the corner church where Ann Tubbs had overseen elections for years, it didn't take long for her to determine the next best thing.

On Tuesday — election day — with scattered snow falling throughout the day, the 71-year-old let her neighbors in Precinct 33 instead pick their school board candidate of choice in the foyer right inside the front door of her home on SE Camelot.

The living room precinct was a callback to another day, when instead of churches, schools and other public buildings, voters marked their ballots from within their neighbors' homes.

“It was really quite convenient, actually, and the people were most thoughtful — they wiped their feet,” said Tubbs, who is retired from the real estate business. “It was raining, kind of snowy, and so they didn't want to track in, but I have tiles so it's not hard to clean up at all.”

The decision to move the precinct from the corner church to Tubbs' home, just a couple hundred feet down the block, came late Monday after both Tubbs and the secretary for the Comanche County Election Board, Monica Baughman, could neither gain access to the church nor get ahold of the new owners.

Baughman spent most that afternoon calling each of the voters who voted there during the November general election — just fewer than 300 in all — and the two posted signs Tuesday morning that directed voters to Tubbs' home.

“She happens to live on a corner with a circular drive,” Baughman said. “To be at a house, it couldn't have been any better.”

They set up a long table in the foyer where voters could check in and receive their ballot. Instead of checking off boxes in a voting booth, they laid their ballot on the back of her grand piano. The electronic machine where ballots are filed and counted stood in a corner on the floor.

It helped that Tuesday's elections brought a low voter turnout. Of the 300 who voted in Precinct 33 last November, only nine showed up Tuesday — and three of those were Tubbs, her husband, Gary, and their granddaughter.

“We know so many of the people and so, no, it really wasn't strange at all having them come in,” Tubbs said. “One lady said, ‘Wow, I've never voted on a grand piano before.”

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