OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 1, 2020 - The Oklahoma City Thunder today formally announced Thunder Vote, a multi-faceted and sustainable initiative to promote voting, with an emphasis on ensuring that all eligible Oklahoma citizens are registered to vote, educate themselves on candidates and issues, and then cast their ballots via in-person or early and mail-in absentee voting.
As part of the program, the Thunder will hold voter registration drives inside Chesapeake Energy Arena every Saturday from Sept.12 - Oct. 4, leading up to the Oct. 9 deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 general election.
"Voting is an absolute cornerstone of our democracy and the Thunder is proud to help spread the message of the importance of registering and voting," said Christine Berney, Thunder vice president of Community Relations. "Thunder Vote provides citizens with information and resources to help them be fully registered and educated voters. This is a non-partisan initiative to ensure that all eligible citizens in our community have the access and support they need to register, vote and have their voices heard in all federal, state and local elections. This has become a permanent priority of the Thunder organization."
Last week, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on a series of social reform priorities, including a significant focus on voting and using team arenas and other resources for voting purposes. As part of those efforts, the Thunder will use Chesapeake Arena as a site for non-partisan voter registration drives, beginning on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. The arena will be open every Saturday at that same time through Oct. 4. These events will provide citizens with access to computers, printers, postage-paid envelopes and other resources for them to register to vote and, if they would like, apply for an absentee ballot, which would be mailed to them.
In addition to the arena registration events, The Thunder will coordinate with local leaders and organizations to take the register and vote message into neighborhoods throughout the community, with a goal of making the resources and information as accessible as possible.
The Thunder corporate offices at the arena will also make voter registration and other voting information available during regular business hours, Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., beginning Sept. 14.
Thunder Vote places an emphasis on education and access to all forms of voting to provide more citizens the ability to vote as easily and safely as possible. Due to the COVID-19 declared state emergency, the requirement to have absentee ballots notarized has been waived for the Nov. 3 general election. Only a copy of the voter's valid ID will be required. In Oklahoma, voters do not need a stated reason to vote absentee by mail, and they can hand deliver their absentee ballots directly to their county election board up until the close of business on the day before the election if they choose.
The Thunder is partnering with the Oklahoma State Election Board to help promote the agency's OK Voter Portal (elections.ok.gov) which provides online access to registration forms, absentee voting information, sample ballots, polling place locations, early voting opportunities and other information specific to the individual voter. The OK Voter Portal can be used to fill out and print registration forms. It also allows registered voters to fill out and electronically submit absentee ballot requests. At its registration drives, the Thunder Vote program will offer free computer and printing access for citizens to use the OK Portal for those purposes, while also providing them the postage necessary to mail in those forms.
Key provisions of Thunder Vote include:
- Opening Chesapeake Energy Arena for voter registration drives every Saturday from Sept. 12-Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., in advance of the Oct. 9 registration deadline. These events will include free public access to computers, printers, postage and other registration and voting resources.
- Offering the Thunder corporate offices as a location to pick up voter registration forms and other voting information, Monday - Friday during regular business hours beginning Sept. 14.
- Educating citizens about and supporting access to alternative voting methods offered under Oklahoma election laws, including early voting at county election boards in the days leading up to elections and absentee voting by mail.
- Information efforts on issues such as registration deadlines, sample ballots and where to find external candidate and issue information, specifically via the Oklahoma State Election Board's online OK Voter Portal.
- An emphasis on ensuring all segments of the community have equal access to voting information and resources.
- Working to educate young citizens of voting age on the importance of voting and offering them information and opportunities to register with events at schools, college campuses and other locations.
- Utilizing the reach of Thunder social media, digital and broadcast platforms to spread the vote message. During the Orlando seeding and playoff games, the Thunder has been using its TV broadcast on FOX Sports Oklahoma to provide pertinent voting information.
- Closing Thunder offices on federal and state election days, allowing staff the day to vote and take advantage of opportunities to volunteer at polling places.
- Additional emphasis on encouraging participation in the U.S. Census.