OKLAHOMA CITY — Two Republicans were appointed Friday to a county election board after their predecessors were removed last month.
The State Election Board unanimously agreed to appoint former state lawmaker Wayne Pettigrew to serve on the Oklahoma County Election Board and Ernie Wiggins to serve as the GOP alternate.
Pettigrew and Wiggins succeed Republicans Cheryl Williams and Jenni White who, in a rare move, were removed from the county board following a 10-hour closed-door meeting of the state governing board.
Among other things, Williams and White were accused of failure to perform their duties prescribed by law, lack of respectfulness and professionalism and behavior unbecoming of Oklahoma election officials after they questioned the process by which the county election board was counting absentee ballots. The women have disputed the state board’s accusations.
Republican Party leaders nominated Pettigrew and Wiggins to fill the vacancies.
Pettigrew, who served in the state House from 1994 to 2004, is an official at Vanguard Benefits Group. He also mounted an unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2012.
Wiggins has served as an election inspector at an Oklahoma County precinct since he retired from a career in pharmaceutical sales.
Pettigrew said he’s served on more than 40 boards and commissions.
“I’ve always been very defensive of our election process and thinking we had one of the finest processes in the nation,” he said.
Wiggins said he felt called to serve.
State Election Board Chairwoman Heather Cline peppered both men with questions about the role of election officials and when it may be appropriate to decline to certify an election. She pointedly asked whether any of their core religious, political or moral beliefs would keep them from certifying an election.
Citing examples of some of the false claims people have made about Oklahoma elections, Board Secretary Paul Ziriax stressed it is critical for the newly appointed officials to use discernment when presented with “outlandish claims” about voting and elections.
At least one of the new appointees is expected to have completed the necessary paperwork in time to serve on the local board by Tuesday, which is an election day in Oklahoma County.
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