Muskogee County candidates were put on notice that precinct workers will be watching Tuesday for campaign violations at all polling places.

Jim Peavler, Muskogee County Election Board chairman, said the candidates were provided with letters that set out state electioneering rules that prohibit campaigning at or near polling places.

The notices, Peavler said, were sent to all candidates on Tuesday’s ballots. There appeared, however, to be particular concern about precincts in the southern part of the county, where voters will be casting ballots in the hotly contested race for the District 2 county commissioner seat.

The Democratic primary contest pits District 2 Commissioner Ronnie Pevehouse against former rival Stephen Wright, Roscoe Duke and Preston Kyzer. The hot campaign topics include road maintenance and burial policies.

Ellen Thames, assistant secretary for the Muskogee County Election Board, said the letter mailed to candidates July 22 was intended “to eliminate problems on Election Day.”

“I’m not saying these candidates will do anything wrong,” Thames said. “And it’s not just this race (District 2) — every time we have an election they (candidates) get a little overzealous in their campaigning.”

Thames said state law prohibits candidates and their supporters from campaigning within 300 feet of any ballot box while an election is in progress. The law also bars all printed campaign materials from being displayed within that same prohibited zone.

Anyone who is seen — or suspected of — violating a campaign law, Thames said, will be advised of the alleged violation. If the unlawful acts continue, precinct inspectors will notify the election board, which will turn the matter over to the sheriff.

Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said posting campaign signs too close to a polling place is the most common complaint he receives with regard to the state’s electioneering laws.

“Generally I will send a deputy out with a tape measure to check it out,” Pearson said. “If the signs are closer than 300 feet, they will be removed. I doubt we’ll have any big problems.”

Thames said reporting electioneering violations is not the sole purview of precinct workers. Anyone who sees a suspected violation, Thames said, should report it to a precinct worker or call the county election board, 687-8151.

Reach D.E. Smoot at 918-684-2903 or Click Here to Send Email

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