Soon the Oklahoma House of Representatives will vote on Bill 2277 to clarify voting rights for ex-felons. The proposal authored by State Representative Regina Goodwin passed committee in a 6-0 vote. Current Oklahoma law states a completed prison sentence also completes a ban from voting. However, Goodwin said not every former offender knows they have that right. “I was knocking on doors and there was a man that had been sitting there for 35 years and he said to me he couldn’t vote, that really hurt. And I said, ‘Why are folks thinking they can’t vote?” said Goodwin.
Articles about voting issues in Oklahoma.
Legislation intended to clarify state law pertaining to restoration of a convict’s voting rights has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, filed House Bill 2277 for consideration during the second regular session of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature, which convenes Feb. 1. HB 2277 provides that anyone convicted of a felony could register to vote upon having “fully served” his/her sentence, “including any term of incarceration, parole or supervision,” or after completing a probationary period imposed by a judge.
An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to clarify the state law regarding a convict’s voting rights. Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa filed House Bill 2277 for the upcoming legislative session. The proposed bill states that anyone convicted of a felony could register to vote after having “fully served” his or her sentence, “including any term of incarceration, parole or supervision,” or after completing a probationary period imposed by a judge.
Oklahoma will soon join two dozen other states in allowing people to register to vote online. The law making this possible takes effect November 1, but News 9’s Alex Cameron tells us the system won’t be ready then. November 1 is when the state is officially authorized to begin working to put an online registration system in place, and it could take a while. The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. David Holt, says the hope is to have online registration available in time for the 2016 election, but there’s no guarantee.
Nearly a year ago, a coalition of voter-advocacy groups wrote a letter to Oklahoma’s top elections official to deliver a stark, but not uncommon, message: The state had failed to comply with federal law. Specifically, the groups charged, Oklahoma was not giving citizens receiving public assistance an opportunity to register to vote, which is a requirement of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. “We hope to work amicably with you to remedy Oklahoma’s non-compliance,” the advocates wrote. “However, we will pursue litigation if necessary.” Such warnings are often a precursor to lawsuits, the kind of knock-down, drag-out legal fights that are filled with accusations of voter suppression and partisan chicanery. In North Carolina and Texas, the courts are weighing challenges to new voter-ID laws, and the Supreme Court recently delivered voter advocates a victory when it ruled that Arizona and Kansas could not require people to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote.
Oklahoma residents who seek public assistance from various state agencies will be provided more opportunities to register to vote under the terms of a settlement agreement announced Thursday that would stave off a potential lawsuit over the state’s compliance with federal voting laws. Details of the settlement were released by the Oklahoma State Election Board and several voting rights advocacy groups that had voiced concerns about Oklahoma’s compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.
A law that goes into effect Nov. 1 will permit electronic voter registration in Oklahoma. This is one of several election reform measures introduced in the Legislature this year by Sen. David Holt. Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said lawmakers took initial steps to address what he calls a “civic participation crisis,” but adds that more needs to be done. “Improving voter turnout is going to be a long process, and the responsibility is by no means limited to policymakers,” he said. “We all have to take ownership.” About 40 percent of registered voters participated on Nov. 4 when Gov. Mary Fallin won re-election over Democratic challenger Joe Dorman. But the true voter participation rate was less than 30 percent, considering how many eligible citizens were not registered to vote.
A law that goes into effect Nov. 1 will permit electronic voter registration in Oklahoma. This is one of several election reform measures introduced in the Legislature this year by Sen. David Holt. Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said lawmakers took initial steps to address what he calls a “civic participation crisis,” but adds that more needs to be done.
After years of doing just about all it could to restrict voting, the Oklahoma Legislature is now trying to encourage it. Historically low voter turnout last year prompted lawmakers to come forward this session with dozens of election reform proposals. About a half-dozen remain in play. The proposals range from increasing the number of absentee ballots a notary public can notarize to an 80-percent reduction in the number of signatures needed for a political party to gain access to the ballot. Others include consolidating elections, online registration and a permanent absentee ballot list. All are Republican bills, and in most cases survived their first floor votes with little opposition.
With more than a third of Oklahoma’s eligible voters not even registered, lawmakers are considering allowing online registration to make the process more convenient and renew interest in elections. An online voter registration bill that received bipartisan support in the Senate is among several measures regarding Oklahoma’s election process that are pending as the session passed the deadline for proposed legislation to be considered in the chamber of origin. In January 2005, more than 2.1 million people were registered to vote, according to state Election Board statistics. Ten years later and about 10 percent more residents, 119,280 fewer Oklahoma residents were registered to vote than in 2005. Last year’s general election drew less than 30 percent of Oklahoma’s eligible voters.