Oklahoma Election Officials Eyeing $5.8M Federal Grant

Jan 27, 2020

State officials want Oklahoma to lock down a $5.8 million federal election security grant.

The funds are in addition to security grants doled out in 2018, but Oklahoma has to offer up a 20% match this time, nearly $1.2 million. The grant is meant to help shore up election systems.

"They specifically say federal elections, but since we have a statewide, uniform system, if you help federal elections, you’re helping every election in our state," said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax.

Ziriax said there are fewer strings attached to this round of grants, and they can be used to improve election security or to improve technology related to elections.

"One thing I’m very interested in is moving toward electronic poll books, which is a means for checking in at the polling place electronically instead of by paper," Ziriax said.

The electronic poll books would let precinct workers scan someone’s ID and immediately see which ballot they need.

The grant could also be used as seed money toward an entirely new system. Ziriax said Oklahoma’s current one should be good through two more presidential elections.

"But after 2024, we really need to start looking as a state about a next-generation system, and there are newer systems that are just as accurate as what we have now but have many more security features — and ours have a lot," Ziriax said.