Thunder Hosts First Voter Registration Drive in Chesapeake Energy Arena

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter |

Like most young teenagers, when Lamont Richardson was young, voting and civic engagement wasn’t at the top of his priority list. Now as a father and a grandfather, his perspective on civic duty shifted in an entirely new direction. He saw on television that the Thunder was hosting a voter registration drive on Saturday morning and figured he would take the first step toward being an eligible voter.

“When you're young, you really don't think all of this is important,” said Richardson, “But as you get older and see times change, it's very important that we’re all registered to vote and support our state and community for the people as well as everything that's going on today.”

With his wife, daughter and grandson by his side, Richardson registered to vote for the very first time inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena during the Thunder’s very first voter registration drive. Within five minutes, Richardson filled out the registration form, handed it off to a state election official and walked out of the doors as a registered voter. As a part of the robust Thunder Vote initiative, the organization will host a series of registration drives in Chesapeake Energy Arena every Saturday leading up to the October 9 deadline to register for the November 3 election.

Throughout the entire NBA restart, the Thunder as an organization had been hard at work to find ways to raise voter awareness and engagement in its community. The Thunder’s efforts were bolstered with the added emphasis on voting and voter education from the players and the league throughout the playoffs. The result was Thunder Vote, a multi-faceted voting initiative centered around the use of Chesapeake Energy Arena for weekly registration drives and a permanent effort to raise awareness and education on the voting process throughout the community.

“It's an amazing thing that we get to vote so we want people to know that they have that choice and to really get out there and do it,” said Christine Berney, Vice President of Community Relations for the Thunder. “We wanted to be a resource for the community. We wanted people to be able to come and to do whatever they needed to do. To check out their voting status or register for the first time.”

Along with registration, the Thunder’s registration drive also serves as a one-stop-shop for all voting related needs such as requesting an absentee ballot, changing registration information or simply checking one’s registration status. The event offers free public access to computers, printers, postage, envelopes and even state election board officials on site who take the completed registration forms straight to the capitol.

“This is fantastic. It gives everyone a place to go where all of their questions can be answered, all of the supplies that they need,” said Misha Mohr, Public Information Officer for the Oklahoma State Election Board. “I can't stress that enough this is a great place to get your questions answered and to speak to somebody in person.”

For Travis Burkhalter, the goal on Saturday was to simply ensure that all of his registration information was up-to-date and accurate before the election deadline. As a father and a high school football coach, taking that precautionary step on Saturday was as much about being ready for the upcoming election as it was setting the right example for those who look up to him on a daily basis.

“That's the biggest part, you want to influence the next generation and being a father is a high responsibility. Being a leader in the community is what I strive to be and setting the right example not only for my child, but the student athletes that I coach,” said Burkhalter. “I just want to make sure that things go right for them and they see somebody that looks like them doing the right thing.”

For both Burkhalter and Richardson, the process was quick and simple and when they left, they had more than just up-to-date registration statuses and information, they walked out as proud examples and leaders. Richardson’s young grandson played a major factor in his decision to get down to Chesapeake Energy Arena on a Saturday morning. By the time they all walked out of the door as a family, both Richardson and his grandson would have a white Thunder Vote t-shirt as a souvenir to remember the experience by.

“It was so the younger generation will have a chance to see how important it is to vote and just support the whole state and states,” said Richardson. “So, everybody get out there and register if you haven’t, and vote.”

Watch: Thunder Promotes Voting Efforts


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