Oklahoma: How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist
Grace Han/Thrillist

The 2020 Election is fast approaching and the last thing you want is for it to get here before you’re prepared. Voting is a right. One you should exercise every election. But being able to vote is a process that deters a lot of people in normal circumstances, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though, and we’re here to help you figure out a plan to vote on Election Day.

Don’t get discouraged by the process of voting. Your vote is your voice and it should be heard. How you get that done is your decision. Here’s what you need to know -- like when you have to register to vote and steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe at the polls on November 3.

What’s the deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma?

The deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma is the same no matter how you plan to do so: October 9. There are a few options: you can register to vote online, via mail-in request, or in person. 

Not sure if you’re registered or not? Plug in your info at the OK Voter Portal to find out.

How to register to vote in Oklahoma

The easiest, quickest, and likely the safest way to register to vote is to fill out a registration form online via the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website. You’ll still have to print, sign, and mail it to your county election board, however.

You can also pick up a paper application at your county election board, the post office, tag agencies, libraries, and other public offices. The state also allows you to download a voter application form. It must be printed, completed, signed, and mailed to your County Election Board.

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Oklahoma?

You can vote early in Oklahoma. Early voting begins October 29 and runs through October 31. Dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Early voting will take place at the election board office in the county where you’re registered to vote. 

According to OK.gov, early voting will take place from 8am to 6 pm on Thursday and Friday before the election. Early voting is also available from 9 am to 2pm on the Saturday before the election. You should check with the election board in the county where you’re registered to vote to be sure of these dates and times before you head out to cast your ballot. 

Early voting is a great way to avoid potentially long lines on Election Day and to keep yourself safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Can I vote by mail?

You can vote by mail in Oklahoma via absentee voting. Oklahoma does not require voters to have a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. Special conditions can make it easier to receive and cast an absentee ballot, though. 

How to request an absentee ballot in Oklahoma

If you’re looking to vote by mail in Oklahoma, you can apply for an absentee ballot online. You can also download an absentee ballot request form. If you choose the latter, you must hand-deliver, fax, or mail the completed request to your county election board. 

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Oklahoma is 5pm on October 27, but seeing as that’s just a few days before the election, that’ll be cutting it real close. Get your request in well ahead of the cutoff. 

How to vote absentee by mail in Oklahoma

Once you receive your absentee ballot for Oklahoma, you must carefully review the ballot and follow the provided instructions for filling it out. Return the ballot in the provided envelope as instructed.

Standard absentee ballots in Oklahoma -- the most common type of absentee ballot requested -- can be returned by USPS or private mail service. It must be at your county election board by 7pm on Election Day to be counted. It’s strongly recommended that you mail your absentee ballot at least one week before the election.

If you requested a standard absentee ballot, you may also return it in-person to the county election board during regular business hours. If you choose to do that, you must have your ballot in the day before the election and must show the same identification required for in-person voting. 

Those who request a “physically incapacitated” or “care for physically incapacitated persons” absentee ballot must return said ballot by USPS or private mail service. You can get more information on those ballots here.

Is there a way to track my absentee ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can track your Oklahoma election ballot through the OK Voter Portal. All you have to do is enter some information about yourself. 

Again, carefully follow the instructions that come with your absentee ballot. It’s also a good idea to avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your voter materials -- you don't want your ballot to be thrown out on some sort of technicality.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic comes with a bit of a risk. There are, however, steps you can take to ensure your safety on Election Day if you’re not able to vote by mail.

First, polling places are typically open early in the morning. Check your polling place’s hours and try to visit early to avoid crowds. The fewer people you’re forced to encounter, the less likely you are to get sick while exercising your right to vote. 

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has also released guidelines for keeping voters safe on November 3 as you head to the polls. Here’s what it recommends, according to its election guidance page

  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol regularly during your time at the polling place.
  • If you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow. Dispose of all tissues in a lined trash can and then sanitize your hands afterward.
  • Do not try disinfecting a voting machine yourself. Use sanitizer before and after touching the machine to protect yourself and wash your hands once you’ve left. 
  • Try to visit polling places when they aren’t busy. This may require multiple trips to your voting location.
  • Make sure you’re registered to vote before showing up to the polls and be sure you have everything you need with you.
  • Bring your own black ink pen. Just ask a poll worker before using it on your ballot.

Additional Oklahoma voting resources

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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it -- find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.