I am 50 years old and 2014 is my first year to vote. Oh, yes, and I live in Oklahoma.

Which is good … because Oklahoma makes it easy to vote.

Now, you folks who have been American all your lives or who have lived in Oklahoma for years … probably already know this and you’re rolling your eyes at the enthusiasm of the newly converted (I just became a US citizen). But just in case you’re used to it … or take it for granted … the legal right to vote is very, very cool. I would do it even if it were hard. So the fact that it’s convenient is awesome.

Registering to vote is unbelievably easy. A registration form may be obtained online, from your county election board, the State Election Board, local post office, tag agency, library, etc. Fill out the form, sign it … and mail it in. Piece of cake. Five minutes and done.

I’m a busy professional and work more than one job … but not only can I find the time to vote in Oklahoma, there is more than one method available to me.

First of all, they have absentee ballots. People who are shut in, people who are disabled, people who take care of the disabled, or people who are away from home – Oklahoma makes it easy for those to vote. All they have to do is request an absentee ballot.

You can write the Election Board … or download a form, mail it in … and your ballot is mailed to you. No lines. No waiting. No getting out in bad weather. For the cost of a postage stamp you can have a voice in how they spend your taxes. The hardest part of absentee voting is finding a notary, but I bet your bank has one…. AND the law says notaries can’t charge a fee for this service.

But here’s what else is cool.  Any registered voter can vote by absentee ballot. You don’t need to give a reason. How easy is that? Oklahoma makes it easy for the busy person. They even have emergency absentee voting procedures.

But I’m a busy person with a tender conscience, so I want to do the research first. Oklahoma makes that easy, too. The State Election Board has an Online Voter Tool for registered voters. Fill in your name and birth date, press “Search,” and all necessary information comes up, including a sample ballot. That sample ballot is the very same one you’ll be filling out to vote.

No more guesswork. This means you can do the research on every single candidate listed on your ballot – at your own pace and ahead of time. Take the sample with you when you vote or reference it when you get your absentee ballot. Easy peasy.

Here’s what else that Online Voter Tool gives you: your voter id, your precinct number, where to vote, and the status of your absentee ballot.

Not only can Oklahomans vote on Election Day, they can vote three days prior to state and federal elections, including a Saturday! Yep. Just to make sure your voice is heard, Oklahoma encourages early voting.

It’s clear that Oklahoma really, really wants you to vote … even if you’re an American citizen living abroad. The State Election Board provides links and services to military/overseas voters and disabled voters. The new voting machines allow for disabled voters … and volunteers are standing by if you need assistance when you vote in person.

It seems as though every possible contingency has been anticipated. You’re not too busy; you’re not too far away; you’re not too disabled. If you can’t get out, Oklahoma will send a ballot to you. If you need assistance, volunteers are here to help. If you want to do the research, you have access to a sample ballot. Got an emergency, but still want to vote? Oklahoma will work with you to make that happen. Don’t know your Voter ID number? No problem. You can access the information online. Don’t know where to vote? Okay. Give your name and birth date; they’ll tell you the location of your polling place.

All you gotta do is be who you say you are. They’ll do everything they can to make voting easy.

Okay, then.

I’m registered. I’ve requested an absentee ballot and researched my candidates using the sample ballot built specifically for my location.

I’m gonna vote this year.

Update: I DID vote this year … and now I’m tracking the status of my absentee ballot; how cool is that?

Grace McMillan
Longtime resident, brand new citizen