Both candidates in the April 4 special general election for District 1 Osage County Commissioner are hoping for a big turnout Tuesday.
Jerry Howerton and Will Cubbage think their campaign would benefit more than their opponent’s if a large number of voters go to the polls to cast ballots in that race.
Cubbage, a Republican from Bowring, and Howerton, a Pawhuska Democrat, are seeking to replace former District 1 Commissioner Bob Jackson, who retired last year.
The victor of Tuesday’s election will serve the 21 remaining months of a term Jackson won in November 2014, when voter turnout was moderately high (slightly more than 3,500 voters cast ballots in the race) and the result was contested. (A recount requested by Republican challenger Randall Jones confirmed Jackson’s re-election by a slim, 40-vote margin.)
Howerton has been an employee of Osage County District 1 for over 32 years. He has been serving as “interim” District 1 commissioner since August — shortly after Jackson, a 72-year-old Democrat from Grainola, made the decision to retire. Jackson had worked 40-plus years for Osage County and was commissioner for the last six of those. During Jackson’s tenure as commissioner, Howerton served as his first deputy (road superintendent).
Cubbage has been an Osage County resident for a little more than 10 years. He was an educator with the Osage County Extenion Office for nine years and is currently employed as a lender and agriculture specialist for a community bank in Bartlesville. (If elected, Cubbage has said he will resign from the bank job.) Cubbage owns a small ranch where he raises registered Angus cattle.
Both candidates are making their first bid for an elective office. Cubbage said, however, that he has, been politically active for years with lobbying efforts at the state and federal levels.
District 1 is the largest, geographically, of Osage County’s three districts. It covers most of the northern half of the county. The District 1 offices are in Pawhuska.
OTHER COUNTY ELECTIONS
Municipal elections in Barnsdall, Fairfax, Hominy, Skiatook and Sperry also are scheduled for Tuesday, April 4.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Osage County Election Board Secretary Andrea Conner urged voters to take their voter identification cards with them to the polls.
“Your voter ID card (issued by the County Election Board) can help precinct officials find your name in the Precinct Registry, and it may help them resolve the problem if you are not listed in the Registry for some reason.”
Alternatively, voters can bring an unexpired photo ID card issued by the U.S. government, the state of Oklahoma, or a federally recognized tribal government.
Voters without ID, or whose names are not found in the Precinct Registry, or voters who disagree with the information shown in the Registry, may always cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is sealed in a special envelope and counted after election day if the voter’s information can be verified by the County Election Board.
Conner explained that state law permits registered voters who will be unable to go to the polls because they became incapacitated after 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, to vote on an emergency basis. “Physical incapacitation” includes a variety of conditions injury, illness, childbirth that prevent a person from voting in person at the polls on election day.
Aside from unplanned emergencies, “state law also allows a registered voter who is physically incapacitated on an ongoing basis or a person who is charged with the care of a physically incapacitated person who cannot be left unattended to submit an application for absentee ballot by an agent.”
The agent may be any person of the voter’s choosing who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot. Also, a person may serve as an agent for only one person at any election, Conner explained.
“If you think that you or someone you know fits into this category, please contact the Osage County Election Board office as soon as possible for more information.”
Registered voters in Osage County who want to vote by mail absentee ballot in next Tuesday’s General Election have until this Wednesday, March 29, at 5 p.m. to request one, Conner said .
Voters who want to cast absentee ballots still can do so in person at the County Election Board office on Thursday, March 30 or Friday, March 31. A two-member, bipartisan Absentee Voting Board will be on duty each day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday to assist absentee voters.
“In-person absentee voters fill out an application form when they get to the office. They are not required to give any reason for voting absentee,” Conner said. “They are required to swear that they have not voted a regular mail absentee ballot and that they will not vote at their polling place on election day.”