This week may be the only time state election officials encourage Oklahomans to vote early and to vote often.
Oklahomans will have the opportunity to view and to try out the state's new voting machines during a mock election Monday through Thursday. People may mark paper ballots and insert them in the new scanners.
Each of the 77 county election board officials will have the machines on display during their normal business hours. County election board hours vary.
Residents don't have to present voter or photo identification or sign in to use the machines. Names of Oklahoma personalities are on the ballots.
“This is just really a demonstration,” sate Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “We certainly invite the public to come see the new voting devices and see the new ballots, mark one and put it through the scanner.”
Optical scanners replaced
The state Election Board last year replaced its optical scanner devices. They were bought nearly 20 years ago and lasted twice as long as expected.
The new machines were installed last year. They will be used officially for the first time in the Feb. 14 school elections.
The new devices will be used statewide for the first time in the March 6 presidential preferential primary.
Voters won't see much of a change in the process of voting, Ziriax said. The new machines will operate similarly to the old devices; they still will allow voters to use the same kind of paper ballot.
Voters still will mark the ballots and insert them in the optical scan counters.
The biggest change will be how voters mark the ballots, Ziriax said. Instead of connecting an arrow on the right side of a candidate's name, voters will fill in a box to the left of the candidate's name.
“This is a new voting system,” he said. “We have new computers, new software programs, new voting devices. There's always a learning curve when you install any kind of new system. We certainly ask that voters and the public (are) patient with us.”