Long lines and bright sunshine greeted Tulsa voters who went to the polls early Tuesday.
Unless you were someone like James Parker, 83, who arrived at Helmerich Library, 5131 E. 91st St., at 6:45 am when the sun peeked over the horizon.
“I just wanted to hit the line,” he said.
And he did. When he left the library, there were about 100 people at the door.
Parker said the president’s race was a motivator for Tuesday’s election and the coronavirus wasn’t a deterrent.
“Almost everyone had masks,” he said.
Brie Coppinger, 27, parked her yellow jeep in the grass behind the library and stepped to the back of the row.
Nor would a deadly virus stop her from voting.
“Absolutely not,” she said.
Their great motivation for voting was to keep America free.
“Do not let any communist thoughts enter our country,” said Coppinger. “We must not allow other countries to convince our voters and perhaps those in power who are running for the presidency.”
Julie Jenkins, 20, said the vote in her first presidential election was like a massive weight taken off her shoulders.
“2016 wasn’t the best time of my life and I was only 16 years old so I couldn’t choose,” she said. “So now I can actually vote and change something because I’m old enough.
She arrived at the Union Eighth Grade Center in Broken Arrow around 6:30 a.m. and waited an hour before casting her vote. Hundreds of people stood in line to vote when she left school around 7:45 a.m.
“Most of my friends voted in the mail,” she said. “But I just wanted to come out and vote.”
Polls across Tulsa County are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today
Postal ballot papers cannot be submitted to the Tulsa County Electoral Board.
Election Committee Secretary Gwen Freeman said at 8:30 am that she had not heard any major issues in the election so far.
“So far smooth sailing,” she said.
When the 66-year-old Dianna Brenner arrived shortly before 9 a.m. at the Iglesia Christiana La Hermosa church, 7500 E. 21st St., the line was short.
She said she had concerns about voting in person, but also concerns about postal voting.
“Because I’d read so much about the problems with postal ballot papers, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll vote in person, even though there are risks,” said Brenner.
She said the president’s elevation is important to her.
“I just felt it was time for a change,” said Brenner.
Freeman said she wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout for Tuesday’s election hit 80%. In Tuesday’s election, 374,821 Tulsa county residents are registered to vote.
“I understand the lines are very, very long, especially in some of our larger counties,” Freeman said.
The Tulsa County Election Board met at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday to begin processing postal ballot papers. The board initially processed 1,300 postal ballot papers submitted by voters on Monday. The electoral board took another 800 ballots from the post early Tuesday.
Jennifer Ipock was among the dozen of the auxiliary electoral committee who helped process postal ballot papers on Tuesday.
The assistants stay until all postal ballot papers that arrive by mail on Tuesday have been counted. The electoral board plans to collect its last ballot papers from the post office shortly before the end of the elections at 7:00 p.m.
Ipock said work can be stressful, but this Tuesday went well.
“I feel like most of the time when we get into a grove it’s all natural and we just keep going like we’re machines,” she said.