Editor’s note: Answering The Purcell Register’s five questions this week is Tenna Garrett, assistant secretary of the McClain County Election Board.
Q: How long have you made balloon animals and how did you learn to do it?
A: Over 30 years. I attended courses through the Fellowship of Christian Magicians for balloons, clowning and ventriloquism. I also have several Christian-based balloon videos and have had the wonderful opportunity to learn some balloon sculptures and fire eating from Gene “Bubba” Wright.
Q: How long have you worked at the election board?
A: Full time since 2007. I started part-time as a clerk. My position is assistant election board secretary. Since I am pretty shy, I like to work in the background. Being assistant secretary is a good fit for me. Karen Haley is a great election board secretary. I enjoy working with my co-workers and feel that we make a good team.
Q: In light of your health challenges in the past year, how do you stay motivated and focused on your job?
A: Prayer from family, friends, co-workers and church family to my precious Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. My life verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I believe everything is for our learning and God’s glory.
Also, I’ve been blessed with a warped sense of humor (I wore funny hats during treatments) and a good work ethic from my parents. If asked how I am, I will more than likely say, “I’m blessed.” I mean it, too.
Q: Election offices across the country have been targeted by extremists since the 2020 presidential election, but the trend seems to have bypassed Oklahoma. Why do you think that is?
A: Oklahoma has the best election system in the nation. The Oklahoma State Election Board partners with numerous state and federal agencies to keep state and county election officials briefed on current threat environments, remedy vulnerabilities and monitors malevolent activities. Oklahoma uses an audit able and verifiable, paper ballot-based voting system.
Voting devices cannot be connected to the internet and have built-in security features. Ballots are secured and a strict chain of custody is maintained through the certification of the election. Every step of the election process – from the precinct level to the state level – is protected by an intricate security plan.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: Before COVID, I sang and did ventriloquism at two nursing homes and one assisted living center in Chickasha and the Veteran’s Center in Norman each month with my brother.
Prayerfully, we will be allowed to do it again soon. I love mission trips, Vacation Bible School, doing mock elections with kids and look forward to doing them again because apparently God’s not finished with me yet.
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