LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Our Voting Rights | Opinion

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One of my greatest privileges on Capitol Hill is to honor our veterans. My father and stepfather served in the military, so I deeply appreciate the cost of our freedom.

During this legislative session, I have had the honor of paying tribute to some WWII veterans from Home District 33, Norm Durham of Stillwater and Burton Coats of Perkins. Unfortunately, we recently lost Norm, which makes me especially grateful that I was able to let Oklahoma know about his service. This weekend, let’s take the time to remember and honor the sacrifices that so many men and women have made.

This is an election year, which reminds me of the sacrifices so many brave Americans have made throughout our history to secure our right to have a voice in our government.

The state election commission has mailed out new voter ID cards with updated district and precinct information. I have received calls and emails in my office from people whose polling station has changed due to the new precincts, and now many have to travel farther to vote. I understand this frustration and my office has contacted the House of Representatives redistricting staff as well as state and local election commissions about this.

By law, the United States conducts a census of the entire population every 10 years. As you know, this happened in 2020, and once we received the final numbers, the Legislature worked through the redistricting process necessary to redesign the State House, State Senate, and congressional district lines based on population changes. This was completed in November 2021, and subsequently the County Commissioners redesigned the County Commissioners’ Districts. Once all of these lines were finalized, the county election commissions redrew the precinct boundaries based on the new census numbers as well as the new districts. Constituencies are not allowed to cross district lines for any office.

The Legislature does not alter precinct lines or polling places—those are determined by county election boards. They worked with the OU’s Center for Spatial Analysis to determine where and how the lines should be redrawn. Electoral commissions are also required to hold a public meeting before adoption to gather comments. Each constituency has a polling station within its boundaries where people from that constituency go to vote, and some constituencies are geographically larger than others due to population density.

An unfortunate trend we have seen over the years is the shortage of poll workers. Each polling station must have as many workers to organize an election. Due to the lack of volunteers, some constituencies had to be consolidated. For example, some Cushing precincts have been combined, and voters on the north side of town are now in the precinct that covers Yale, while voters on the west side are part of the Ripley precinct. Each constituency still covers less than 3,500 people as required. Under state law, these districts remain in effect until the next census and redistricting cycle in ten years.

I understand the inconvenience and frustration of voters who now have to travel further to get to their polling station. Rather than get upset, I encourage my constituents to continue enjoying their voting privilege and even consider getting more involved by signing up to help make the polls work. Honor the sacrifices of those who came before us.

For those unable or unwilling to get to their polling station on Election Day, there are other ways to vote, including mail-in or advance voting. Visit oklahoma.gov/elections for more information and important dates and deadlines.

Primary elections, for races that require a primary, will take place on June 28. Any necessary second rounds will be held on August 23 and general elections are scheduled for November 8.

As always, please contact my office at 405-557-7304 or john.talley@okhouse.gov with any questions or concerns.

Representative John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne counties.

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