The Senate Rules Committee has advanced three proposals introduced by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, to modernize Oklahoma’s election system and increase rapidly declining voter participation. In 1992, over 70 percent of eligible Oklahomans participated in the presidential election, but by 2012, that percentage had plunged to only 52 percent, third-worst in the nation. In 2014, less than 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the statewide general election. A third of eligible Oklahomans are not even registered. There were fewer registered voters in 2014 than there were in 1988, even though the state’s population has grown 22 percent.
Articles about voting issues in Oklahoma.
Voters could apply to become permanent absentee voters under a measure approved by the Oklahoma House Elections and Ethics Committee today. State Rep. Elise Hall, author of House Bill 1559, said the intent of her legislation is to improve the absentee ballot system and encourage greater voter participation. “The current absentee ballot process forces individuals to apply for a ballot each and every election,” said Hall, R-Oklahoma City. “That can be a real hardship for traveling voters, nursing home residents and other incapacitated individuals. It makes more sense to allow people to apply for a permanent absentee status so that they can receive ballots for each election in which they are eligible to vote.”
In the election process, casting your vote, and the steps the lead up to it are virtually frozen in the past. “I’ve never met a government process that can’t be modernized,” said Oklahoma State Senator David Holt, looking to kick start election reform with a series of bills that would hopefully increase voter turnout. How bad have things gotten? “In 1992 over 70% of Oklahomans voted in the Presidential election, but in 2012 only 50%, third worst in the nation,” he said. The bills would do things such as online voter registration, and voting by mail like folks do in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. … As for one day actually voting online? “We’re a ways off, decades probably,” said Holt.
An Oklahoma state Senator has proposed big changes to the way Oklahomans vote. Senator David Holt has filed a package of nine bills and a joint resolution he says are designed to increase voter participation. “Oklahomans are patriotic, but our voting record is undermining that reputation. Our plunging levels of civic participation are reaching crisis levels,” Holt said in a release.
A Broken Arrow state senator wants to change the state’s voter I.D. law after his elderly and veteran constituents were turned away from the polls for not having photo I.D. that was good enough to get a ballot. State Senator Nathan Dahm, R- Broken Arrow, tells FOX23 that he has filed a bill to be considered by the state legislature this coming session that would allow all Oklahomans to use expired driver’s licenses and passports as a valid form of photo I.D. when they go out to vote. ”They had to go back and find another form of identification that they had, and we just want to address the situation,” Dahm said. Dahm tells FOX23 that a group of World War II veterans living in his district told him they had carpooled to the polls because some of them couldn’t drive, but when they all arrived at the same precinct, some of them were turned away because they pulled out expired driver’s licenses to use as voter I.D.
Travis Rice expressed surprise when he was told the ballot he cast earlier this month during the Oklahoma general election hadn’t counted. “That doesn’t make me happy,” Rice said, when informed by the Tulsa World that his provisional ballot had been rejected. “They told me it would count,” the Jenks resident said, quoting what precinct workers told him when he cast the provisional ballot. Rice was among hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 4 election that ended up not being counted by election officials, records show. … Statewide, a little over half of the 1,604 provisional ballots were cast because the would-be voter’s name did not appear on the registry where the person had gone to vote. Another 699 voters on Nov. 4, were issued provisional ballots after failing to provide a proper ID at the polls. Election workers determined all but 34 of the 699 provisional ballots issued for lack of ID were valid, whereas only 138 of the 878 provisional ballots cast due to a missing registry name end up being tallied.
Travis Rice expressed surprise when he was told the ballot he cast earlier this month during the Oklahoma general election hadn’t counted. “That doesn’t make me happy,” Rice said, when informed by the Tulsa World that his provisional ballot had been rejected. “They told me it would count,” the Jenks resident said, quoting what precinct workers told him when he cast the provisional ballot. Rice was among hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots during the Nov. 4 election that ended up not being counted by election officials, records show. And while nearly all were rejected for valid reasons, some were not counted due to mistakes by election workers, a World investigation has found.
The new Democratic leader in the Oklahoma Senate said Thursday he will introduce a bill in 2015 to allow citizens to register to vote online, a move designed to increase voter participation in a state with traditionally poor voter turnout. State Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, studied the issue with members of the Senate Rules Committee and received testimony from party officials and election experts. “We’re just trying to get in line with other states and get more people out to vote,” Bass said. “I think it will be safe and secure.” Rules Committee Chairwoman Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, said she would need to see cost estimates and have assurances the online database was secure before she agreed to grant the bill a hearing.
The Oklahoma Election Board on Wednesday certified the results of last week’s election despite a request by Democrats for a special election in the 2nd Congressional District where Democratic nominee Earl Everett died two days before the vote. After a closed-door session with attorneys from Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, the three-member board returned to open session and certified the results based on the attorneys’ recommendation. Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax says state law in this case is pre-empted by federal law.
Will access to public information, peer pressure and a bit of shame send more Oklahomans to the polls? David Glover, 51, a self-described political junkie, hopes so. Oklahoma has seen abysmal voter turnout — so bad that the state ranked third lowest in overall participation during the 2012 elections, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Glover says he wants to do everything within his power to change that and get voters to the ballot box for each election. (The next election, by the way, is today’s primary run-off with polls open until 7 p.m.) “I’m trying to figure out how to encourage more people to vote,” said Glover, a self-employed Oklahoma City resident. “There are not many good reasons to vote if you think your vote is not going to matter.”