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Take Me Out To The Ballot Box: ONEOK Field Prepares To Debut As Early Voting Site

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Chris Polansky
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KWGS News
Taylor Levacy, Community Relations Manager for the Tulsa Drillers, gives a tour to demonstrate how the ballpark will be set up for three days of early voting starting Thursday.

The Tulsa Drillers franchise is preparing to help voters exercise their political franchise.

This Thursday through Saturday, ONEOK Field, the Drillers' ballpark, will serve as Tulsa County's only early voting location for the upcoming election.

Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman said the stadium being large and open-air made it a better choice during the coronavirus pandemic than the traditional locations of the Election Board office or the Hardesty Regional Library.

"We have spent countless hours working toward one goal, and that is to provide our Tulsa County voters with a fair, accurate and safe election, with safety for both our voters and our staff being one of our greatest concerns," Freeman said at a Monday press conference at ONEOK Field.

"We are so thankful for the use of this magnificent facility, and believe that this is clearly the safest and most convenient option for the voters of Tulsa County," Freeman said.

Taylor Levacy, community relations manager for the Drillers organization, gave media a walking tour on Monday of how the stadium's concourse would be converted into a large polling place. Voting machines will be spread throughout, with voters picking their ballots up from election staff working out of the stadium's concession stands.

"We've had a lot of different questions, such as, 'Can I order a hotdog with the ballot?' and all that kind of stuff, but I think right now we're just going to keep it particularly on the voting process," Levacy said. "But it would be cool if we could have them run the bases as well."

Freeman said the election board would have 24 to 28 staff members handling operations. She said the board has all hands on deck to attempt to avoid scenes like those being seen in other states recently, where voters have stood in line for hours to cast their early ballot.

"We are anticipating a record early voting turnout," Freeman said. "We are hoping that it isn't five-hour waits and mile-long lines. We're hoping that we'll be able to get voters in and out as quickly as possible."

"Our goal is to make it enjoyable. It's not enjoyable to stand in line for hours on end, so what we are hoping that we've done in the pre-planning -- and, you know, we'll only know when those days come whether or not it worked -- we're hoping through the pre-planning that we're able to provide voters with a not only enjoyable experience but as little time spent in line as possible," Freeman said. 

ONEOK Field will be open for registered Tulsa County voters to cast their early ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. More information on early voting and other questions about voting in the upcoming election is available at the Tulsa County Election Board website

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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