County using detained people from jail to transport ballot boxes for elections

Source: Twitter


Max Bryan

The Norman Transcript, Okla.

Jul. 14—Cleveland County uses people detained at the county jail to transport ballot boxes for elections, officials confirmed Wednesday.

A photo posted to social media the evening of the June 28 primary showed two detained men moving ballot boxes outside the Cleveland County Election Board building into a truck under sheriff’s deputies’ supervision.

County Election Board President Bryant Rains confirmed Wednesday that the county uses detained people to move the ballots in secured boxes “every election.” Sheriff’s spokesperson Hunter McKee said Wednesday the county has used them for ballot transportation since at least 2009, when Joe Lester was elected sheriff.

McKee said the detained people who help move the ballots in the elections are not arrested on suspicion of, charged with or convicted of felonies. In Oklahoma, someone convicted of a felony may not vote until they have completed their sentence.

When asked whether the process could appear punitive toward detained people, McKee declined to comment.

“It’s a procedure that’s been in place for a long, long time, and it’s worked well for us, so however people want to perceive it, that’s their opinions, but that’s just the way that we do it,” McKee said.

Ray McNair, executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association, did not immediately respond to two phone calls Wednesday seeking comment about whether this is common practice throughout Oklahoma.

Damion Shade, president of OK Justice Reform, declined to comment on the county’s practice before getting “a bit more background” on the situation.

Oklahoma law requires county sheriffs to secure election results. A sheriff must receive the election results storage device and ballots at the end of each day of in-person absentee voting, according to state law.

Called “trustees” by the Election Board and the sheriff’s office, the detained people move the ballots boxes onto a truck under the supervision of deputies when the election board is closed.

“The ballot boxes are escorted to a secure location,” McKee said in a prepared statement. “(Detained people) nor CCSO staff can access the content of a ballot box.”

Rains said there are “usually more deputies” than detained people.

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