By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Statewide candidate filing begins today, Wednesday, April 8 at 8 a.m. Candidates are encouraged to use mail or private delivery to file, but an in-person “drive-through” option will be available for state and federal candidates.
Due to the fact that the Capitol is closed to the public, in-person candidate filing will take place in the south parking lot of the State Capitol. Candidates should remain in their vehicles and follow traffic flow signs.
Candidate filing on April 8, 9, and 10 will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No candidate filings will be accepted after 5 p.m. on April 10. There are no exceptions, according to the state’s press release.
Candidates who file in-person will use a “drive-through” drop off in the State Capitol parking lot. The “drive-through” will help maintain social distancing protocols in an effort to minimize risks to Election Board personnel and candidates.
Secretary Paul Ziriax said State Election Board personnel can review declarations of candidacy and cashier’s checks or certified checks ahead of time by emailing those documents to [email protected]
“This is not an ideal situation for either election officials or candidates. But, with a little patience and a lot of precautions, we will get through the candidate filing period together,” Ziriax said.
Candidates should visit the State Election Board’s website at elections.ok.gov for specific details about candidate filing, such as delivery instructions or additional information about the “drive-through” filing procedures.
Candidates can also contact the State Election Board customer service desk for details at 405-521-2391.
Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman told The Tulsa World, her office will offer drive-thru service for candidates or their representatives who want to drop off their paperwork in person.
“What we will do is, if you pull into the parking lot of the Election Board, we will have an area coned off for you,” Freeman said. “I will, or the assistant secretary will, come out to the car. We will have on masks, gloves.
“We will take your paperwork from you, bring it back into the building, look it over, make sure that it is correct, stamp it in, make copies, and bring the copies back to your car while you wait,” Freeman added.
As reported earlier this week by Pat McGuigan, publisher of The City Sentinel, due to the current pandemic, some political leaders have sought to delay filing for federal, state and local elections. A range of local elections in 74 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, first set for Tuesday, April 7, have been delayed until later this year. Secretary Ziriaz allowed the delay under state law.
Matt Patterson, reporter for NonDoc.com wrote, “All 101 seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are eligible for election in 2020, as are the odd-numbered districts of the Oklahoma State Senate. All five congressional seats are eligible, as is the seat of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett.”
The primary for the countywide elections will be held June 30. Run-off elections, if necessary, would be held Aug. 25, and the general election is set for Nov. 3.
Nick Singer, Director for Oklahoma Progress Now. a resource for progressives, said, “I am concerned that with the attention on the pandemic, many folks are overlooking the barriers and challenges for filing for office this week.
“Many city and county offices have reduced staff and access to their offices,” Singer added. “Mailing your packet to the state requires getting a notary and sending it certified mail, which can be tough in a pandemic. I think we need to make sure people have the opportunity to have their voices heard.”
Voters who are concerned about in-person voting can apply online for an Absentee ballot application, which can also be obtained at the Election Board.