November Editorial Winner

Dealy must go

John M. Wylie II, Oologah Lake Leader

We've written for two weeks about the problems Rogers County Election Board Secretary Rebecca Dealy created for the voters of the Northwest Rogers County Fire Protection District.
Voters who should have gotten in-person absentee ballots did not receive them. Voters who lived in other fire districts did receive Northwest ballots.
Based on that and the chaotic handling of the absentee ballot count on election night, we suggested that an investigation was in order.
Now it has come out that the absentee ballots were not secured after they had been counted, although that is required by law. Instead they were stacked under a plastic milk crate in a back room of the election board.
Dealy discovered the error the next day, called the Sheriff's Office and had the ballots locked up. But she didn't tell the election board chairman before the election was certified late Friday afternoon-or for that matter until Monday night, about 12 hours before both were due in court.
They had been summoned to District Judge Dynda Post's courtroom because of a challenge seeking a recount in the District 1 commissioner race.
In court Dealy tried to blame others for her grievous mistakes. A Claremore Progress investigation also raises questions about her compliance with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
The challenge seeking a recount was filed by Blake Lewis, who earned the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat by defeating Dealy's husband Larry in the primary election which his wife oversaw. While not illegal, the couple's multiple roles raised many eyebrows.
Dealy has been a disaster as election board secretary. At a time when citizen mistrust of their democracy is at an all-time high, her repeated bad judgment and incompetent actions are problems this county does not need.
Some voters were denied the right to vote in the most local race on the ballot. Others cast ballots in a race where they were not qualified to vote.
And a candidate was denied the right to be certain that his race was properly tabulated.
Throughout, the election board secretary always tried to blame someone else for the problems. All this in a single election.
Dealy must resign. If she refuses, the State Election Board must remove her.
Fair, competently run elections are the bedrock foundation of our democracy. Getting Dealy out of the process is vital to protecting that foundation.