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Panel removes two members of the Oklahoma County Election Board

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Panel removes two members of the Oklahoma County Election Board

Feb 01, 2024 | 6:24 pm ET
By Barbara Hoberock
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Panel removes two members of the Oklahoma County Election Board
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The State Election Board took the rare step of removing two county elections officials from their posts. (Getty Images) (This image cannot be republished unless you have a Getty subscription.)

OKLAHOMA CITY — For the first time in at least 15 years, the Oklahoma State Election Board voted Wednesday to remove two GOP members from a local county election board.

After meeting about 10 hours behind closed doors, the panel unanimously voted to remove Republicans Cheryl Williams and Jenni White from the Oklahoma County Election Board. White served as the Republican alternate for Williams.

The State Election Board accused Williams of a number of things, including: lack of truthfulness; failure to disclose potential conflicts of interest; failure to perform duties prescribed by law; apparent misrepresentation; lack of respectfulness and professionalism; and behavior unbecoming of an Oklahoma election official, according to a copy of the motion provided to Oklahoma Voice.

Williams, who denied wrongdoing Thursday, said she had raised questions about the counting of absentee ballots from a recent election.

“We will be seeking legal counsel on some of the questions we have,” she said.

White said she had filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Election Board about the process the county board used counting absentee ballots.

The State Election Board’s accusations against White include: failure to perform duties prescribed by law; dissemination of false information about Oklahoma’s election system and procedures; failure to immediately remove false information from the public domain; lack of respectfulness and professionalism; and behavior unbecoming of an Oklahoma election official, according to a copy of the motion.

White said the accusations are disappointing, adding that she disagreed with what the board said.

“I can’t even figure out what wrongdoing I am being accused of,” White said. “It is very vague.”

She said that there are other ways of solving problems.

White said she does not have plans for legal action at this time.

The state panel directed that Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax refer the matter to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office for review and possible investigation.

It marks the first time in at least 15 years that the state election panel removed members of a county election board, said Misha Mohr, Oklahoma State Election Board spokeswoman. 

The county central committees of the two parties with the largest number of registered voters in the state each provide a list of nominees to the State Election Board, which makes the appointments. The county election board consists of a chair, vice chair, election board secretary and two alternates.

Ziriax was directed to seek nominees for the vacant posts to be submitted on or before Feb. 7. The State Election Board is expected to appoint the new members during a special meeting before the upcoming Feb. 13 election, Mohr said.

County election boards have a number of duties, including: certifying election results; conducting contests of candidacy hearings; examining absentee ballot affidavits; and observing recounts.

Williams unsuccessfully ran in 2022 for the Edmond Board of Education.

White is president and education director of Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment, also known as ROPE, and former mayor of Luther.