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.
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.
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.”
Political opponents accuse each other of lying all the time, but one Oklahoma congressional candidate took his accusation to a new level this week when he claimed his opponent was actually dead and being represented by a body double. KFOR in Oklahoma reports that Timothy Ray Murray believes Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), his opponent in the congressional Republican primary, was executed three years ago and is being represented by a look-alike. Because he believes Lucas is really dead, Murray said he will challenge the results of Tuesday’s Republican primary, in which Murray received 5.2 percent of the vote. Lucas won the primary with 82.8 percent of the vote. “It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011,” Murray said in a statement posted on his campaign website. The statement claimed Lucas and “a few other” members of Congress from Oklahoma and other states were shown on television being hanged by “The World Court.”
Oklahoma: Democrats blame hacker for shoe sales pitch — State party website leads to Nike shoe site | Muskogee Phoenix
Perhaps neon yellow Nike running shoes are a tongue-in-cheek allusion to Democratic candidates “running” for office and trying to get people to the polls. Because when many visitors checked the state Democratic Party’s website Thursday, they were promised “Absolute flexibility for a natural run” and told to “Just Do It.” The problem: Those messages came from Nike, not Democrats.
Recent court decisions in Wisconsin and Arkansas may not have direct application to Oklahoma’s voter ID law, but they do give heart to those challenging it, University of Tulsa law professor Jim Thomas said last week. “When I saw the Wisconsin decision, saw it was 91 pages, I was excited,” said Thomas. “It shows the attention the court gave to this case. It increased my confidence that Oklahoma’s law will be struck down.” Thomas represents Tulsan Delilah Christine Gentges in a case now before an Oklahoma County District Court. The lawsuit has followed a winding trail that has taken it from Tulsa County District Court to the Oklahoma Supreme Court and now to Oklahoma County.
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission recently announced it has purchased its own automated election system, which will allow the tribe to run its own elections in 2015. In the past, the Cherokee Nation has contracted with various vendors, including Unicyn and Automated Election Services. According to Cherokee Nation Election Commission Director Connie Parnell, by owning its own equipment, computers and software, the tribe will save hundreds of thousands of dollars and improve election security. “Frankly, it’s more cost-effective,” said Parnell. “The last election in October 2013 cost almost $300,000. Each big election was costing that much, without adding in the cost of runoffs and special elections.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit that challenges the state’s voter ID law, ruling that the Tulsa County resident who filed it has legal standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality. The state’s highest court handed down the ruling in a lawsuit filed by Delilah Christine Gentges, who sued the Oklahoma State Election Board after voters approved the law in a statewide election in 2010. The Supreme Court ruled that the law requiring voters to prove their identity before voting was validly enacted. But it reversed a ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis that Gentges lacked legal standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality on the ground that it violates the free exercise of provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution that guarantee the right to vote.
Gov. Mary Fallin confirmed Friday that the special election to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn will coincide with this year’s regular election schedule. Coburn announced last night that he is resigning effective the end of the current session in December. Two years remain on Coburn’s term. Under state law, a vacancy such as the one occurring because of Coburn’s resignation requires the governor to declare a special election to fill out the remainder of the term, with the election to run concurrently with the regular election.
The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission on Dec. 10 unanimously voted to purchase election equipment from Texas-based Hart InterCivic with the expectations of running its own elections in 2015. Election Services Director Connie Parnell said she first contacted the Tribal Rights Employment Office to see if there were any Cherokee-owned election manufacturers from which the EC could purchase the equipment. After learning there were no such companies, the EC moved forward with finding a provider. “There is not a lot of companies left. They’ve all bought out each other,” Parnell said. “And of those that are left – ES&S, Dominion, Hart InterCivic – those are your three major companies that produce election equipment. And they are the manufacturers. They aren’t the middle man.” Parnell said she contacted five companies but only two were interested in working toward the EC’s goal of running its own elections, Hart InterCivic being one.
Oklahoma: Hurry up and wait: Tulsa’s new election process frustrates candidates, voters | Tulsa World
After a frantic eight weeks of campaigning leading up to the June 11 nonpartisan mayoral election, now comes the dead of summer and the long, seemingly endless march to the Nov. 12 general election between former Mayor Kathy Taylor and incumbent Dewey Bartlett. Why, one might wonder, is there five months between the primary and the general election? Or, worse yet, seven months between the April filing period and the November general election. And then there is this possibility: If one mayoral candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, that candidate becomes mayor but doesn’t take office until the first week of December. How did this happen?
The Oklahoma State Election Board demonstrates how a new voting machine can help visually impaired voters cast their ballot on Election Day. “It is an interface that allows voters with disabilities to vote without assistance while the regular voting is still going on,” said Pam Slater with the Oklahoma State Election Board. The new voting machine uses an audio-tactile interface (ATI) which allows blind voters to listen and scroll through an audio version of the general election ballot to make their choices. “It is very easy to feel around and feel exactly what you need,” said Cathy Tuton who is visually impaired. “It tells you everything you need to know.”
Oklahoma voters with visual impairments will be able to cast ballots independently and privately this year for the first time in a presidential election. The state’s new voting machines incorporate an audio aid that guides blind voters through the various ballot choices. Once selections have been made, the audio device summarizes the selections made and provides voters an opportunity to change their choices before the ballot is cast. Jane Thomas, a social worker at the Oklahoma School for the Blind, said students who participated Wednesday in a mock election encountered “some glitches.” But for the most part, Thomas said the technology incorporated this year with the state’s new voting machines is “wonderful.”
Out-of-state students preparing to vote in the November elections will likely need to dig up their voter registration card or U.S. passport if they plan to cast their ballot in Oklahoma. Because of the state’s voter ID law, Oklahoma voters are required to show some form of identification before receiving a ballot. The catch, however, is driver licenses from out of state do not qualify, said Jim Williams, Cleveland County Election Board secretary. “That is another unique feature of the Oklahoma law; it does have to be an Oklahoma driver license,” Williams said. “So if you have an out-of-state driver license, you’ll need some other form of ID for voting.” Other acceptable IDs include a state-issued ID, a U.S. passport, a military ID — all of which are photo IDs — but there is one exception: voter registration cards, he said.
Danya Curtis explains her 398-30 advantage from mail-in absentee votes in her Aug. 28 Adair County Clerk runoff with Cathy Jones Harrison very simply. “I identified about 1,200 people who did not vote in the primary who said they would vote for me, and I encouraged them to apply for absentee ballots.” Curtis lost the election day vote 925-748 and the early walk-in vote 85-35, but won because of write-in absentees. She also finished first in the three-way June 26 primary on the strength of mail-in absentee voting. “I followed the law. I helped with the request papers if they needed help and sent a notary to notarize the ballots if they needed that. “From my point of view, I honestly believe it was a matter of being able to get out and work.”
Oklahoma: Court Explains Why State Officers of Americans Elect Cannot Nominate Presidential Electors | Ballot Access News
Here is the short decision of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court in Lawhorn v Ziriax, 2012 OK 78. The decision implies, but not does explicitly say, that qualified parties in Oklahoma cannot nominate presidential electors unless their party holds a national convention. This is based on an incidental part of the election law that says presidential elector candidates must take an oath to support the candidate chosen at that party’s national convention. The irony of this interpretation is that even if Americans Elect had gone ahead with its original plans, it never planned to nominate a presidential or vice-presidential candidate at a national convention. Instead, the party expected to nominate via an on-line vote of any registered voter in the nation who wished to participate.
After a glitch in reporting the June 26 primary election results, the Oklahoma State Election Board has decided to no longer use a subcontractor to report election results on its website, board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Tuesday. The June 26 primary election results initially were incorrectly reported on the agency’s website, causing about a two-hour delay in getting the right numbers posted. The software initially was indicating that some precincts had fully reported, when in fact they had not been fully reported, Ziriax said. He called the errors an “isolated vendor software glitch at the website.” The actual vote totals reported were correct, Ziriax said. “I am 100 percent confident the tabulation occurred correctly,” he said.
Precinct workers in Tulsa County mistakenly allowed two people to each vote twice, resulting in the contested and missing ballots in the House District 71 race, a state Election Board investigation found. The investigation results were presented to the state Election Board Tuesday night at the state Capitol. Democrat Dan Arthrell defeated Republican Katie Henke by a single vote. However, the election results already have been nullified by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and the candidate to hold the state House Seat representing Tulsa will be determined in the November elections. “We certainly don’t want to see things like this happen,” Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “But we’ve certainly learned a lot.”
State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said he is embarrassed by a software glitch that delayed posting results of Tuesday’s elections on the agency’s website for about two hours. The numbers were correct, but a problem occurred in the software when the early and absentee voting numbers were transferred to the website, he said Wednesday “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Ziriax said. “I’m unhappy, and I’m embarrassed by it.” It’s at least the second glitch in four elections for the software for the new $16.7 million system, which went online earlier this year with election officials promising faster election results and more data. Ziriax said election officials noticed the problem almost immediately and decided to postpone adding updated election figures until the software problem was found. Although the numbers were correct, the software problem erroneously reported in some races that all the precincts had been reported. “This is the displaying of results on a website,” he said. “It is not the tabulation of results. It is not the counting of ballots.”
The troubled April 3 special election in Tulsa’s House District 71 has led state and local officials to change procedures, software and training to makes sure all voters and candidates have confidence the process. On election night, Democrat Dan Arthrell was declared the unofficial winner by three votes. But a subsequent recount led to Republican Katie Henke being certified the winner by one vote. Only hours after the recount ended, Tulsa County election officials discovered two unsecured ballots for Arthrell still sitting in an election machine. They later said that evidence suggested that on two other occasions people were allowed to vote twice because of mistakes by precinct officials. Ultimately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found it impossible to determine who won the election and invalidated the vote.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously voided the results of a special election for a state House seat in Tulsa. The court’s order came after a series of problems cast doubt on the true outcome of the election. … The Court, after reviewing the “totality of the evidence presented,” found it “impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election” and thus voided the election entirely. In the wake of the order – and due to the delays occasioned by the case – the state board of elections is going to keep the seat vacant until it can be filled at this November’s general election.
Oklahoma: House District 71 special election results thrown out by state Supreme Court | Tulsa World
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has invalidated the April 3 House District 71 special election. The 8-0 court ruling means no one won the contested election between Democrat Dan Arthrell and Republican Katie Henke, and the district will go unrepresented in the state House of Representativeness until next year. “It is impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election,” the ruling by Chief Justice Steve Taylor says. “Therefore, the certificate of election issued by the Tulsa County Election Board is invalidated and the election is void.”