By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: Special Interest | Issue: August 2010
The staff of the Rogers County Election Board includes (L to R): Katie Theall, Rebecca Dealy, Teresa Hardesty, Karen Flowers and Roy Hancock.
The United States is a free country, where people have the right to vote on their public officials and on many of the issues that affect them every day. All too often, however, people do not take advantage of this right, perhaps because of their busy schedules or just lack of information. The Rogers County Election Board is working hard to keep people informed – and to make sure each citizen has an opportunity to be properly registered.
“People do not realize how important each vote is,” states Roy Hancock, assistant secretary of the Rogers County Election Board. “In a recent election, only 5.4 percent of 51,000 registered voters in the county turned out to vote.” Hancock points out that the issue being voted on involved a sales tax increase that would go toward building a new courthouse – an issue that will affect the county for years to come. Only a small percentage of voters decided the outcome for the rest.
With some of the events in recent national elections, people are often worried about the integrity of their vote. Rebecca Dealy, Rogers County Election Board secretary, wants to inform voters that the Rogers County election system is the same as the one used by the entire state. “We are one of the only states to have a uniform system,” she notes. “Because it is so regulated, we have little problem with the voting process.” She points out that Oklahoma is well known for the integrity of its voting system.
Voter outreach is the duty of the Election Board, and Teresa Hardesty conducts Voter Registration Drives on a regular basis. Katie Theall makes sure precinct officials know when to pick up supplies and helps test voting devices, along with taking care of many details that help bring everything together.
The first step to entering the process is to be properly registered. Karen Flowers, Rogers County Election Board registration specialist, encounters several issues daily that cause concern. “People often forget small things that seem unimportant, like signing the registration form, printing legibly, adding phone numbers, or paying attention to deadlines,” she says. “Every detail is important, however. If I cannot read the form, I cannot get it into the system, and if it is not signed, it cannot go through.” Karen also notes that more people have similar names than is realized, so addresses are extremely important, in case questions arise.
In addition, Karen points out that Rogers County has recently assigned a lot of new addresses for the sake of 911 emergencies, especially in the western and northern parts of the county. “If you have added an address change for 911, please look into updating your information,” she advises. “We just want everyone to be able to vote.”
“It is important to understand the magnitude of what we do,” says Hancock. “It takes over 100 people to run an election in our county. No matter what the turnout, it takes the same amount of money, time, effort and people.”