In a Facebook post that hinted at some of the false claims the president has made about the ongoing election count, Sen. James Lankford asked why vote counting was taking so long in a handful of states, while the process seemed smooth in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma can count our ballots in five hours, with a record setting [sic] election turn out but PA, NC, NV, AZ and GA can not even figure out how many ballots they have left to count after three days,” Lankford, R-Oklahoma, wrote.
Lankford’s thoughts have been shared by others who praised the quick posting of Oklahoma’s election results just after midnight.
More than 1.5 million Oklahomans cast a ballot this election, including nearly 281,000 mail-in ballots.
In Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots continued to be counted Friday with the balance of the presidency on the line, more than four times the number of votes were cast than in Oklahoma, including 3 million by mail.
In Nevada and Arizona, the number of ballots has been double that of Oklahoma, and Georgia and North Carolina were at least three times larger.
But the biggest challenge in Pennsylvania is that counting mail-in ballots could only start on election day.
In Oklahoma, mail-in ballots can be counted starting the Thursday before the election. But this year counties were given special permission by the State Election Board to start counting earlier.
“If we didn’t get that special permission we would still be processing (votes) today,” said Doug Sanderson, secretary of the Oklahoma County Election Board.
Sanderson said Oklahoma County began counting mail-in ballots on Oct. 1 and as they were recieved up until election day.
Results from individuals precincts are also quick to post because a flash drive with the results is delivered to the county election board office after polls close, entered into a computer, and instantly sent to the State Election Board, Sanderson said.
“Oklahoma’s election system and laws are designed to have final ‘unofficial’ results available on election night.,” said Paul Ziriax, Secretary of the State Election Board. “On Tuesday night, unofficial results for Election Day votes, in-person absentee early votes, and mail absentee votes were tabulated and posted on the Oklahoma Election Results (OKER) site.”
Ziriax said that some county election boards worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week processing mail absentee ballots to make sure these were done by Election Day.
“Prior to 2013, county election boards could not begin scanning mail absentee ballots until Election Day,” Ziriax said. “That year the Oklahoma Legislature enacted a law (SB 869) that authorized county election boards to begin counting these ballots prior to Election Day with the permission of the State Election Board secretary. I am very proud of our county election boards for their hard work to get this done.”
In his Facebook post, Lankford criticized the fact that Democrat Joe Biden was making gains as mail-in ballots were counted in other states.
“We haven’t seen slow counting and extra ballots showing up in heavy Trump precincts,” Lankford wrote.
The reason is because Democrats overwhelmingly voted by mail, a form of voting Trump downplayed and wrongly told his supporters was corrupt.
In a statement from his office, Lankford said his Facebook post was meant to point out the “efficient election counting process in Oklahoma.”
“Days after the election, several states still cannot say how many ballots are yet to be counted,” Lankford said. “Several heavily Democratic precincts in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georga took days to complete their count, when other precincts in the same state were long completed. That does not build trust in their election system. Every state has the obligation to provide an election system that allows everyone to vote, every vote to be counted and every vote to be verified.”
Election officials in each of those states say their slow count is due to the unusually high number of mail-in ballots, but also because they are committed to verifying every vote.
“The stakes are high and emotions are high on all sides,” said Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, during a Friday morning news conference. “We will not let those debates distract us from our work. We will get it right, and we will defend the integrity of our elections.”
While the focus is on a handful of states, many others are still counting ballots. However, the margin is sizable enough that most other states have already been called for a candidate.