Oklahoma lawmakers begin voting and proposing elections | News

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Proposed laws to change how and when Oklahomans can vote — or register to vote — are beginning to make their way through the Legislature.

A handful of election-related bills have already passed in committee. Some far-reaching proposals are to be heard this week.

Oklahoma Watch wrote about the more than 75 ballot or election bills (and included a searchable table of those bills) introduced before the session, as part of the organization’s renewed focus on the democracy. Here is an overview of the position of some of them.

Voter ID and federal “overrun”

A Republican-led proposal asking voters to add a voter ID requirement to the state constitution is moving forward.

The Senate Rules Committee advanced it to the Senate on a 13-0 vote.

Oklahomans passed a state question in 2010 adding a legal requirement for voters to provide ID, making Oklahoma one of 35 states with a voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But Oklahoma’s law is less strict than others. It allows voters with ID to request a provisional ballot and prove their identity by signing an affidavit. Their ballot must be verified later by election workers.

Elevating the state voter ID requirement to a constitutional provision could give lawmakers more authority to make other changes, including making state law stricter. The constitutional status could protect the requirement, which has already been the subject of a lawsuit, from future legal challenges.

Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, who is sponsoring the resolution, said the measure is also an attempt to prevent federal influence should Congress pass federal voting legislation.

Another bill also aimed at protecting the state from changes to federal election laws was passed by a House committee last week.

House Bill 3232 states that if the federal government passes laws that violate Oklahoma’s election law, those laws would only be followed in federal elections held separately.

The proposal, which would cost at least $1 million to $1.5 million per election, passed by a 5-2 vote with Democrats in opposition.

Restore the right to vote

Democrats saw one of their legislative priorities take a hit when a House committee refused to introduce a proposal to make it easier and faster to restore voting rights to ex-felons.

Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa’s proposal would have clarified when a person convicted of a crime can register to vote. She said it was necessary because there has been “some controversy” over when ex-felons, who have had sentences commuted or released, can register.

After some discussion, the House Elections and Ethics Committee rejected it by a 4-3 vote.

“I was just trying to provide clarity and set some parameters so that when people have been incarcerated, they know when their right to vote has been restored,” Goodwin said immediately after the vote. “I think we’ve made it way too complicated, and it’s one of those bills where if we can’t get bipartisan support, God help us.”

Another Democratic-led proposal did not advance out of committee. A bill by Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman, would require all higher education institutions in the state to provide at least one full-time staff member to notarize ballots during voting times. by designated correspondence.

Although it had no cost, it did not move forward after no other lawmakers agreed to “second” a motion to put it to a vote.

On this week’s program

One of the more ambitious ballot proposals is scheduled for a first hearing this week.

Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, drafted a measure requiring all voters in the state to re-register after 2023. Oklahomans would also have to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, Oklahoma residency and other supporting documents. identity to regain their right to vote.

The bill will be heard at the House Elections and Ethics Committee meeting scheduled for noon Thursday in Room 5S2 of the State Capitol.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to produce in-depth, investigative journalism on public policy and quality of life issues facing the state. is confronted.

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