You may have seen recent news stories about the federal government’s attempt to stop South Carolina’s new voter ID law. The action represents a new aggressive approach by the federal government to get involved in state election issues that includes a recent effort to stop the Texas Legislature’s redistricting plan.
The upcoming election on February 14 will be the first election where Oklahoma’s new voter ID law will be taking effect. On this day, voters in all of Logan County will vote in the newly redistricted Senate District 20 election, and voters in Guthrie and Edmond school districts will vote on the election of school board members.
The new voter ID law was approved by the people in a vote during the 2010 general election. For years the Legislature had worked to pass the bill, only to face a veto from the previous Governor. This was frustrating for those of us who believe in the importance of voting and protecting the integrity of the system. I actually have one constituent who feels so strongly about this that he has insisted on showing his ID to precinct officials. The Governor’s veto was bypassed when we sent this important issue to a vote of the people where it passed by a wide margin.
The new redistricting law took effect in November. This law was approved by the Legislature during this year’s session. The law created a Senate district out of Logan, Noble, Pawnee and much of Kingfisher county. Logan County had previously been separated into four Senate districts but now lies completely within the new district. The new district does not include any of north Oklahoma County which continues to be represented by Senator Jolley (SD 41) east of Santa Fe, and will now be represented by Senator Johnson (SD 22) west of Santa Fe.
Some may wonder if the federal government will challenge or try to stop Oklahoma’s new voter ID or redistricting laws. The answer is no. One of the reasons the federal government has standing to challenge the South Carolina and Texas laws is due to the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Under this law the federal government can challenge election laws in certain “covered jurisdictions,” which include several states, cities and counties mostly in the south. Fortunately, no part of Oklahoma comes within the definition of a “covered jurisdiction.”
This means that you should bring your ID or voter card when you vote on February 14. Voters who do not have an ID must sign an affidavit and vote with a provisional ballot that will be kept separate from the other ballots until election officials can ensure the vote was cast by someone eligible to vote.
The February 14 election will also be the first time the state will use new voting machines paid for with federal money appropriated according to a program following the 2000 election controversy in Florida. I was not a big fan of this change. I think Oklahoma’s system has worked very well and don’t think that many of the old voting machines needed replacing. I don’t think the government should spend taxpayer money to replace systems that work well and are not broken. It doesn’t make sense.
Fortunately, the new machines use an optical scanning technology that is similar to the very successful system currently in use. There are benefits to the new system because the upgrade will allow for faster reporting of results and better guard the privacy of disabled individuals.
Finally, the February 14 election will also be the first time the newly re-drawn precinct lines will be used. Several thousand House District 31 voters will vote at new precincts. I have posted the new precinct map at HD31.org/maps.php as well as the new Senate district maps that intersect with House District 31. I have also posted a description of each House District 31 precinct in both Logan and Oklahoma Counties and a map showing each precinct polling place. I plan to post some of the specific changes in a future article.
Those who are still unsure where to vote can contact me at Jason.Murphey@okhouse.gov or 557-7350, the Oklahoma County Election Board at 713-1515, or the Logan County Election Board at 282-1900.
State Representative Jason Murphey
2300 North Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
1(405) 557-7350 (Office)
*** House District 31 is changing. View the new district lines and new polling locations before you vote on February 14th at http://www.hd31.org/maps.php ***