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Tulsa Election Board needs precinct officials, political polarization partly to blame

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To hear her describe it, Oklahoma's election system is a work of art, and Gwen Freeman is in love with it.

"It is sort of a machinery. It's like watching a beautiful piece of machinery on election night. When you see the people who have been doing this for years who know exactly what they are doing, they do it very very well. It's just watching this whole thing come together," she said.

But for this machine to function, she needs precinct workers. COVID-19 has certainly done its part to reduce the pool of workers, but now she's encountering new issues for the first time.

"This highly charged political atmosphere is something I find disturbing, and in some cases, our precinct officials feel threatened and intimidated by some of the actions that our voters are taking towards them," Freeman said.

They also have had a few instances where precinct workers will wear clothing supporting a particular candidate or voice their opinions.

"If you've got a political axe to grind, please don't sign up to be a poll worker," she said. "What we want are poll workers who are committed to this process."

To help, she's made the unprecedented step of asking city leaders within Tulsa County to come in, hear their concerns, and find ways to help them staff.

"We've never had to actually do that before, but now we're having to appeal directly to city leaders and they were extremely responsive," she said.

But more workers are needed. She's hoping to reach a few of you out there who are as passionate about American democracy as she is, and she already has proof she's not alone.

"We have a Vietnam vet who has worked for us for decades at the polls. I love it when I talk to him because he says this is what I fought for, some of the folks I fought alongside, this is what they died for. It is my duty and my privilege to be able to come home and do something as fundamentally important as helping out with elections."

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If you'd like to sign up to be a precinct official, click here or call 918-596-5762.


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