Tulsa County Gets 1st Pandemic Election under Its Belt

Jul 6, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

With results certified and some time to reflect, Tulsa County’s top election official said Monday the first contest during the pandemic went fairly well.

Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman said some of the lessons learned may be useful for a local election in August and the November general if the coronavirus is still circulating as many health experts predict.

"Well, we ordered 250,000 pens, single-use pens, so that people wouldn’t have to use the same pen. Things like that, that were just — you don’t think of when you start going into it, and then you realize these details can be very, very important," Freeman said.

Freeman said it also took some work to acquire personal protective equipment for hundreds of poll workers.

Another big challenge of the June 30 primary was managing more than 30,000 requests for absentee ballots — about five times the normal amount — and the roughly three in four that came back.

"There’s not room to put all the incoming mail that comes in. Obviously, we’re not used to having to recruit from every other single department just to help out with everything from stuffing envelopes to looking at affidavits," Freeman said.

Election workers were on the clock from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. some days to get through them all. In all, more than 140,000 Oklahomans requested absentee ballots.

An April election was postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic under a declaration from the state election board.