Early Voting for Primary Election Begins Thursday

(Oklahoma City) – Early voting for the June 28 Primary Election begins Thursday at 8 a.m. Republican and Democratic primaries will take place, along with several nonpartisan elections in many counties.

In-person absentee voting, more commonly known as “early voting,” will be held Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Early voting is also on Saturday, June 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. No excuse is needed to cast an in-person absentee ballot. Early voting locations/dates/times are available on the State Election Board website.

Oklahoma has closed primaries. However, for the 2022-2023 election years, the Democratic Party has opened its primaries to registered Independents.

Independent voters wishing to vote a Democratic ballot, should let the election worker know when they check in. As a reminder, Independent and Libertarian voters are eligible to vote in any nonpartisan elections on the ballot.

Due to statutory redistricting, it is recommended that voters verify their voting districts before heading to their voting location – as some voting districts have changed. You can view your sample ballot using the OK Voter Portal. The election list is available on the State Election Board website.

Voters with questions should contact their County Election Board.

URL Guide

Early Voting: https://oklahoma.gov/elections/voters/early-voting.html
Closed Primaries:  https://oklahoma.gov/elections/voter-registration/political-party-info.html
OK Voter Portal:  https://oklahoma.gov/elections/ovp.html
Election List: https://oklahoma.gov/elections/elections-results/next-election.html
County Election Board: https://oklahoma.gov/elections/about-us/county-election-boards.html

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Autism and Employment

Autistic and other neurodivergent adults face many challenges living in a world designed by and for neurotypical humans, or those that do not have autism, ADHD, or any developmental disorder. From feeling like they don’t fit in anywhere to being bullied for their neurological differences, they often also meet many unfair and ableist barriers when trying to gain steady employment.


I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and I suspect I am on the spectrum as my youngest child is as well. While learning this about myself was eye-opening and made many things make sense, I noticed that upon disclosing my identity to others their treatment of me changed, especially that of current and possible future employers. It has the effect of making a person feel alienated and “less than” other adults. It causes depression, anxiety and has lasting effects on one’s mental health on top of ensuring that autistic adults often have a hard time holding jobs if they can get one.


Some barriers to employment that autistic adults deal with are “…not being exposed to work as early as their peers, a lack of employer knowledge about autism, stigma, insufficient capacity, and non-helpful workplace policy” (Nicholas, 2020). Once autistic people find jobs that they are suited for that take advantage of their strengths they often thrive in ways that are both helpful and profitable to the companies they work for. “Despite this emerging evidence demonstrating means to support employment in the autistic population, there continues to be overall low employment rates and reported dissatisfaction about employment prospects among autistic individuals themselves” (Nicholas, 2020).


Other issues that autistic people may deal with regarding employment are related to their sensory sensitivities. Offices and other workplaces can be overwhelming to autistic people due to “…ambient noise of conversation and machinery, the lingering smells from colleagues and food and the incessant flickering of overhead fluorescent lighting can be very aversive. Added to this, a near constant fear of social interaction, interruption from colleagues or machinery and sudden events can mean the autistic person is swiftly inundated” (Harnett, 2019). Living life on high alert trying to be prepared for all those possible interactions and events is exhausting and can make autistic people seem rude because they try to avoid those types of interactions in order to focus on their work, further alienating them from their co-workers and bosses.


With our knowledge about autism and the way it presents is constantly evolving, more and more adults are discovering they have autism. With this spectrum widening, it has grown to include “…those who meet the core criteria for an autism diagnosis but did not have co-occurring intellectual disability and/or early language delays. Consequently, many adults have been identified as autistic later in life having slipped through the diagnostic net in childhood” (Crane, 2020).
There are steps that companies need to take in order to have more inclusive workplaces to this growing field of disabled workers and there is also legislation the government should work to enact to protect autistic and other disabled workers. It is also important that those enacting policies at all levels do so by listening to those who are affected the most by it. “Perhaps one of the greatest changes that has taken place over the last 40 years is the realization that, in order to improve services and support for autistic people and their families, and to ensure that research funding better reflects their priorities, it is crucial to listen to their own voices” (Howlin, 2021).


Though it is getting easier to find information about autistic adults that highlights autistic voices about their experiences, struggles, and support needs, the truth remains that more research is needed about autistic adults and the different social problems they have. “A 2017 review estimated that only around 3.5% of published research on autism involved adults, and the proportion of studies with a focus on adult supports and services is even lower” (Howlin, 2021).
One organization that makes sure to center autistic voices while doing advocacy work around disability laws and employers, as well as offer different toolkits to help autistic adults through many kinds of situations they may face at work and in life, is the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, or ASAN. “ASAN works to make our society more inclusive for autistic people. We work to make sure that autistic people are in control in our own lives and have a say in policies that affect us. We work to protect disability rights and civil rights. We celebrate and promote autistic community and culture. We do this work in many ways, including:
• Policy and legal advocacy
• Making educational resources
• Creating advocacy tools
• Leadership training for autistic self-advocates” (autisticadvocacy.org)
In 2019 they organized a #WorkWithUs campaign, asking Congress “…to pass the legislation that would finally end subminimum wage and make integrated employment the law of the land,” (autisticadvocacy.org) and spoke at the United Nations. They also backed the lawsuit of an autistic woman who was restricted from her law license by the state bar “…because she’d been under guardianship.” (autisticadvocacy.org) ASAN filed an amicus brief stating there was no excuse for discrimination and the court agreed, awarding the woman her license. The organization also developed a proxy calling system, most specifically Elizabeth Bartmess. This system has made “…civic engagement accessible to many more members of our community.” (autisticadvocacy.org)

Bibliography

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). http://www.autisticadvocacy.org.
Chu, Jeff. (2015). Making It Work. Inc., Vol. 37 Issue 5, 34-110.

Crane, Laura. (2020). Supporting Newly Identified or Diagnosed Autistic Adults: An Initial Evaluation of an Autistic-Led Program

Harnett, Teresa. (2019). Issues in Employment for Autistic Adults: Open Plan Offices. Good Autism Practice.

Howlin, Patricia. (2021). Adults with Autism: Changes in Understanding Since DSM-111. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders. Vol. 51 Issue 12, 4291-4308.

Nicholas, David B. (2020). Employment in Autism: Reflections on the Literature and Steps for Moving Forward. Autism & Developmental Disorders. Vol. 18 Issue 3, 5-11.

Sarrett, Jennifer. (2017). Interviews, Disclosures, and Misperceptions: Autistic Adults’ Perspectives on Employment-Related Challenges. Disability Studies Quarterly. Vol. 37 Issue 2, 6-6.

SH-33 closes at SH-74 through June for ongoing construction

Eastbound and westbound SH-33 will be closed between SH-74 near Crescent and SH-74F near Cashion in Logan County starting at 8 a.m. Thursday through June for an ongoing widening and resurfacing project. 

Detour will be SH-74 to SH-74F to SH-33 for the duration of the closure, which is necessary for drainage installation and bringing the roadway to grade in two locations.

The nearly $10 million project was awarded by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission to T.J. Campbell Construction Co. of Oklahoma City. The project is expected to complete in late summer 2022, weather permitting.

Hofmeister seeks Attorney General opinion regarding Stillwater schools’ restroom policy

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 23, 2022) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has requested a formal binding opinion from the state Attorney General in the wake of questions surrounding the restroom policy at Stillwater Public Schools. That district’s school board has asked for clear legal guidance from the State of Oklahoma on whether the district may continue allowing transgender individuals to use the school restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

On April 18, the Stillwater Board of Education approved a resolution requesting the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and State Board of Education to take up emergency rules on restroom policy.

Hofmeister said the proper course of action is to get a binding opinion from Attorney General John O’Connor, particularly since Stillwater’s request doesn’t meet the definition of an emergency. Stillwater Public Schools indicate there have been no reports of incidents in the six years that the policy has been in existence.

Other considerations point to the critical need for an Attorney General opinion. Local control is a guiding principle in Oklahoma law, which has long held that school districts make decisions through their duly elected school boards. Moreover, appellate court decisions throughout the country have largely weighed in that the rights of transgender students are ensured by Title IX, although no legal precedent currently exists in Oklahoma’s jurisdiction.

Hofmeister asks that the Attorney General issue a formal written opinion to clarify whether districts may set their own policies for restroom use.

“The answers to these questions will not only provide the crystal-clear guidance sought and will come in the form of a binding opinion on those in Oklahoma who have historically implemented and enforced Title IX and related laws on these matters,” wrote Hofmeister. “Your attention and expeditious review of these matters are sincerely appreciated.”

Oklahoma Book Awards Finalists Announced

Inspirational Author Jim Stovall is Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Thirty-four books have been chosen as finalists in the 33rd annual Oklahoma Book Awards competition.  Winners in the categories of fiction, poetry, design/illustration, children/young adult and non-fiction will be announced at the Oklahoma Book Awards banquet on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel, 741 N Phillips Ave., in Oklahoma City.


Sponsored by the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the awards recognize books written in 2021 by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma.  Of the 34 finalists, 31 are by authors, poets, book designers or illustrators who currently live in Oklahoma. This year’s competition drew 115 entries.

The annual book competition is organized by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a project of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and in partnership with the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

The event’s master of ceremonies will be Steven Baker, managing editor of the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman.

In addition to the literary awards, the Oklahoma Center for the Book will present the 2022 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award to acclaimed inspirational author Jim Stovall of Tulsa.

Also, to be honored during the evening will be the late Sanora Babb, who will receive the posthumous Ralph Ellison Award for contributions to Oklahoma’s literary culture and heritage.

Stovall should be considered the embodiment of achievement. Despite losing his sight in his 20s, he has been a national Olympic weight-lifting champion, a successful investment broker, the president of an Emmy Award-winning television network and the best-selling author of more than 50 books, including “The Ultimate Gift,” which served as the basis for the 2006 film, starring James Garner. 

For his work in making television accessible to the nation’s 13 million blind and visually impaired, Stovall was selected as the 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year by the President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity. In 2000 he was chosen International Humanitarian of the Year, joining Jimmy Carter, Nancy Reagan and Mother Teresa as recipients. 

Stovall was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in November 2021.

Sanora Babb was born in 1907 and spent much of her childhood in the town of Red Rock, on the Otoe Tribe’s reservation.

With a nomadic father with a penchant for gambling, Babb’s family moved often, living in Ponca City, Blackwell, and Waynoka, before settling for a lengthier time in a dugout homestead in Baca County, Colorado. After repeated crop failures, the family moved to the Oklahoma Panhandle where Babb graduated as valedictorian from Forgan High School. After college, she obtained her Associated Press credentials before moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1929 to work as a journalist and later as a scriptwriter for KFWB radio.

From adolescence and for the next 70 years, Babb wrote countless short stories and poems that were published in a wide variety of publications. Yet despite her prolific output, many literary scholars believe Babb’s writing has not received the acclaim it deserves.

Her novel, the autobiographical “The Lost Traveler,” first published in 1958 and reissued in 2013, reflects her turbulent teen years. Babb’s memoir, “An Owl on Every Post,” published in 1970 and reissued in 2021, chronicles her early childhood on the plains. 

Some 60 years after Babb wrote her Dust Bowl novel, ”Whose Names are Unknown,” she saw it finally published by OU Press in 2005, the year before her death at age 98 in Los Angeles. Filmmaker Ken Burns has described Babb’s Dust Bowl book as “a literary masterpiece.”

Finalists for the 2022 Oklahoma Book Awards are:

Non-fiction:

“The Chance: The True Story of One Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” by Lisa Cheng and Bruce M. Baker, both of Oklahoma City, and published by Soonershoot Press.

“A Life on Fire: Oklahoma’s Kate Bernard,” by Connie Cronley of Tulsa, and published by University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

“Unknown No More: Recovering Sanora Babb,” edited by Joanne Dearcopp of Old Greenwich, CT., and Christine Hill Smith of Glenwood Springs, CO., and published by OU Press, Noman. 

“Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy and a History of Erasure and Exclusion,” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz of San Francisco, CA., and published by Beacon Press.

“This Land is Herland: Gendered Activism in Oklahoma from the 1870s to the 2010s,”

edited by Sarah Eppler Janda of Lawton and Patricia Loughlin of Edmond, and published by OU Press.

“The Most Wonderful Wonder: True and Tragic Tales from the Back Roads of American History,”by Holly Samson Hall of Guthrie, and published by Messenger Moth Press.

“At War with Corruption: A Biography of Bill Price, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma,” by Michael J. Hightower of Oklahoma City, and published by 2 Cities Press.

“Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence,” by Anita Hill of Waltham, MA., and published by Penguin Random House.

“The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History,” by Karlos K. Hill of Norman, and published by OU Press.

“Tony Hillerman: A Life,” by James McGrath Morris of Santa Fe, NM., and published by OU Press.

Design/Illustration/Photography:

“Tall Grass Big Dreams,” designed by Carl Brune of Tulsa and photography by Harvey Payne of Pawhuska, and published by Full Circle Press. 

“Funny Fani’,” designed by Corey Fetters, illustrated by Josh (Lokosh) Hinson, both of Ada, and published by White Dog Press. 

“The Oklahoma State Fair—A History,” designed by Skip McKinstry of Oklahoma City, and published by Oklahoma Hall of Fame Publishing.

“The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History, designed by Barry Roseman and Anthony Roberts, both of Norman, and published by OU Press.

“Recovering Ancient Spiro: Native American Art, Ritual and Cosmic Renewal,” designed by Eric Singleton of Edmond and Julie Allred of Oxford, NC., and published by National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Fiction:

“Splitsville,” by William Bernhardt of Choctaw, and published by Babylon Books.

“Blood on the Mother Road,” by Mary Coley of Tulsa, and published by Moonglow Books.

“Stargazer,” by Anne Hillerman of Santa Fe, NM., and published by HarperCollins.

“Dance with Death,“ by Will Thomas of Tulsa, and published by Minotaur Books.

“Hell on the Border: The Bass Reeves Trilogy,” by Sidney Thompson of Fort Worth, TX, and published by University of Nebraska Press. 

“A Secret Lies in New Orleans,” by Ron Wallace of Durant, and published by Dorrance Publishing Company.

Children/Young Adult:

“Living Ghosts & Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories,” by Dan SaSuWeh Jones of Kaw City,  and published by Scholastic Press.

“Planting Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai,”by Gwendolyn Hooks of Oklahoma City, and published by Interlink Publishing Group.

“Opal’s Greenwood Oasis,” by Najah-Amatulla Hylton of Oklahoma City and Quraysh Ali Lansana of Tulsa, and published by The Calliope Group LLC.

“Run, Little Chaski! An Inka Trail Adventure,” by Mariana Llanos of Oklahoma City, and published by Barefoot Books.

“The Little Blue Bridge,” by Brenda Maier of Tulsa, and published by Scholastic Press.

“Night of the Amber Moon,” by Helen Dunlap Newton of Tulsa, and published by Yorkshire Publishing.

“Seekers of the Wild Realm: Legend of the Realm,” by Alexandra Ott of Tulsa, and published by Simon & Schuster.

“Dark and Shallow Lies,” by Ginny Myers Sain of Tulsa, and published by Penguin Random House. 

“Not Now, Cow,” by Tammi Sauer of Edmond, and published by Abrams Books.

Poetry:

“A Fine Yellow Dust, by Laura Apol of East Lansing, MI, and published by Michigan State University Press.

“Contour Feathers,” by Ken Hada of Ada, and published by Turning Plow Press. 

“Ronin,” by Paul Juhasz of Oklahoma City, and published by Fine Dog Press.

“Stone Roses,” by Linda Neal Reising of Poseyville, IN., and published by Kelsay Books.

For more information on the book awards, visit the website at libraries.ok.gov/ocb, or contact Connie Armstrong, executive director, Oklahoma Center for the Book, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 200 NE 18 St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105, or call 405/522-3383, or email connie.armstrong@libraries.ok.gov.

US-177/Perkins Rd. becomes four-way stop just north of Tyler Ave. in Stillwater

Work is expected to complete in winter 2023.

The intersection of US-177/Perkins Rd. and the entrance to the Aldi’s grocery store between E. Tyler Ave. and Redbud Dr. in Stillwater became a four-way stop Thursday through fall 2022 as part of an ongoing highway reconstruction project.

Other US-177/Perkins Rd. intersections now switched to four-way stops include Knotts Ave. and Krayler Ave. Temporary removal of the traffic signals at these three locations was necessary to provide enough room for ongoing construction.

Northbound and southbound US-177/Perkins Rd. remain narrowed to one lane in each direction between Hall of Fame Ave. and Lakeview Rd. in Stillwater through fall 2022 for a nearly two-year pavement reconstruction project.

Work will suspend in the fall for Oklahoma State University game day weekend traffic and resume after football season completes. 

Additionally, motorists can expect no left turns allowed at Hall of Fame Ave., McElroy Rd., Lakeview Rd. and Redbud Dr. to help with traffic flow through the work zone. Motorists also should expect lane shifts and a reduced speed limit in the work zone. Drivers are advised to expect delays and plan for extra travel time in the area or locate alternate routes. Additionally, motorists can expect impacts to business driveways throughout the extent of the project, however, at least one entrance will remain open at all times to businesses.

The nearly $18 million project was awarded by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission to Duit Construction Company Inc., of Edmond, in October. This work is in partnership with the City of Stillwater. Work is expected to complete in winter 2023.