As election officials brace for an expected large voter turnout in next week’s election, volunteers will be stationed at several Oklahoma County precincts to help voters and note voting problems. Volunteer poll monitors will be part of a national, nonpartisan group and will be asking voters to contact them if they experience difficulties voting. Volunteers will wear black T-shirts with the words "Election Protection.” Members in the group, made up mostly of Oklahoma City University students, will be part of Impact, a national network of law students founded in 2004 at Columbia Law School in New York to monitor voting integrity. Impact is part of the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition, which was formed to ensure all voters have an equal opportunity to cast their ballots. OCU law student Sean Spivey contacted Impact and arranged for a training session last week with a group representative. "This is a great nonpartisan way to ensure everyone who has the right to vote has the capability to vote,” he said. Laura Gleen, who is taking a semester off from Columbia to work on Impact, said volunteers should document when voters have problems and then call a toll-free number to report the issue. "My experience is that there are a very few polling places that run absolutely smoothly,” Gleen said. "Because of the (expected) record turnout ... that will mean longer lines and confusion with so many new voters being registered.”
Impact’s goalsSpivey said he hopes to have enough volunteers so the group can watch voting activity at 10 Oklahoma County precincts. Zahra Hemani, working on her law degree from New York University and a state Department of Human Services employee, found out about the Impact meeting on OCU’s Web site. She said the Nov. 4 election will be historic — with either the first black president or the first woman vice president being elected — and she wants to make sure "everybody does get their vote counted.” Doug Sanderson, Oklahoma County’s election board secretary, said he welcomes the group’s interest, but he wants to make sure volunteers don’t inhibit voters. Unless they receive authorization, they should stay about 300 feet from polling places, he said. Sanderson said Oklahoma County poll workers are trained to help voters who have troubles. The biggest problem, he said, is voters who go to the wrong polling place or are no longer on the voting rolls. "We never turn anybody away,” he said. "We try to see if they have a card so we could use that to look them up and we even offer the provisional ballot if the voter believes they’re eligible to vote there.”
What to doVoters who encounter problems while casting their vote Nov. 4 may call the nonpartisan group Election Protection’s hot line at (866) 687-8683.
Where to goVoters wondering where they should vote can check their voter registration card or go online to the state Election Board’s Web site, http://www.elections.state.ok.us/. Scroll down and click on "Where to Vote” to find the correct polling place.
The groupThe nonpartisan Election Protection coalition was formed to ensure all voters have an equal opportunity to cast their ballots.
How to helpVolunteers wanting to help with Election Protection should call 208-6214 by noon Wednesday.