Oklahoma power outages linger after ice storm, here's why Election Day won't be impacted

Oklahoma's voter registrations surged ahead of Election Day

Tens of thousands of residents across Oklahoma remain without power Monday after a devastating ice storm last week, but officials stress it won't impact Election Day

Oklahoma Gas & Electric said the storm that brought down trees and power lines across the region caused the largest outage in company history, impacting more than 400,000 customers. 

In the days since, OG&E said it's restored power to nearly 290,000 customers as of Sunday night, but some may need to wait until Friday to get their power back. 

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According to OG&E, 96% of  800 polling locations in the company's service area have power. The remaining locations still in the dark are expected to have their power restored by Tuesday.

"We continue to coordinate with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to make sure polling stations have power for Tuesday’s election," OG&E director of corporate affairs Brian Alford said in a statement to FOX25.

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The utility is working with Oklahoma Emergency Management to secure generators as a contingency. 

Statewide there are still over 140,000 customers without power as of Monday morning, according to the tracking website poweroutage.us.

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Even if polling locations still don't have power, State Election Board officials have said voting can continue because Oklahoma uses paper ballots. 

Voters fill out their ballots once inside the polling place at the Oklahoma County Election Board, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Oklahoma City.

Voters fill out their ballots once inside the polling place at the Oklahoma County Election Board, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“All of the voting machines have ‘emergency bins’ where ballots can be deposited in the event of a power outage or technical issue,” State Board of Elections spokeswoman Misha Mohr told The Oklahoman. “Ballots can then be counted by the voting machine once the power is back on or they can be counted at the county election board.”

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The storm last week did not appear to deter early voting. Photos from Friday and Saturday showed long lines as people waited to vote.

Voters at the front of a line in Edmond were reporting five-hour waits to vote. 

In this Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 file photo, the line for early voting at a polling place in Oklahoma County wraps around Edmond Church of Christ in Edmond, Okla.

In this Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 file photo, the line for early voting at a polling place in Oklahoma County wraps around Edmond Church of Christ in Edmond, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

According to the State Election Board, Oklahoma's voter registrations surged ahead of Election Day, with a net increase of more than 169,000 registered voters since Jan. 15 and a net increase of nearly 53,000 since Sept. 30.

The line for early voting at a polling place in Oklahoma County wraps around the Edmond Church of Christ and more, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Edmond, Okla.

The line for early voting at a polling place in Oklahoma County wraps around the Edmond Church of Christ and more, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Edmond, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma’s voter registration statistics released on Sunday show that registered Republicans now make up more than 50% of Oklahoma’s registered voters for the first time.

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“The surge in voter registrations is a clear indication that Oklahomans are highly interested in the 2020 general election. It is a positive sign for higher voter participation this year,” Paul Ziriax, secretary of the State Election Board, said in a statement. “The new statistics also continue the decades-long growth trend for Republicans and Independents as a percentage of Oklahoma’s electorate.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.