State Election Board says Poll Watching Illegal in Oklahoma
Mike Seals - October 7, 2020 10:51 pm
by: Jacklyn Chappell –
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Those that watched the presidential debate last week may recall President Trump urging voters to watch over the polls, but in Oklahoma, you might want to think twice about doing so.
“Every election cycle you have some do gooders who want to show up and they’re thinking, ‘oh I’m gonna go find some nonexistent fraud,” said Paul Ziriax, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary.
Just weeks before election day, the Oklahoma State Election Board is telling voters poll watching won’t be tolerated.
This after President Trump encouraged voters to keep an eye out for election fraud.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen,” Trump said during Presidential debate on Sept. 29th.
But poll watching is illegal in Oklahoma.
“In terms of being there during voting, that’s against the law. In fact it’s against the law for anyone other than election officials or voters to be within 50 feet of the ballot box,” Ziriax said.
Ziriax there are a select few who can watch the polls, but only as they open and close.
“Oklahoma has a process for poll watchers. It’s where a candidate or a recognized political party contacts and gets permission from the county election board secretary but it’s very limited,” Ziriax said. “What it is is watching the voting device be turned on prior to the polling place opening and watching it be shut down at the end of the day after the polls have closed.”
But if you’re still concerned about voter fraud, Oklahoma County says they have someone from both major political parties working at the polling sites.
“It would require some sort of collusion among three people of opposite political parties. I think that’s remote,” said Doug Sanderson, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary. “We keep track of how many ballots are issued, record the voters as they come in and sign in. We have all kinds of checks and balances in the system that would make that almost impossible.”
If you’re planning to watch over voters come election day, you could end up serving up to a year in jail and paying a $10,000 fine.
The deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma is Friday, October 9th.