Following the recent primary election I have fielded numerous calls and messages from voters disappointed they were not eligible to vote in an election they had interest in. Most of the calls centered on sheriff races and with a seven-way republican primary race in Logan County, I can certainly understand the interest. I’d like to first thank all of the brave men and women that placed his or her name on the ballot. Running for any office is a challenging undertaking. It taps your time, stresses your family, and can interfere with business and personal relationships. Your willingness is to be commended.
It is important that everyone knows that Oklahoma has some of the best election procedures in the country. We rarely have issues at the polling locations, we have convenient access to early voting and voting by absentee ballot, and have consistency throughout our 77 counties. Not every state has an election process with the same integrity. Polling workers and the fantastic staff at our county election boards do a great job protecting access to the voting booth for all eligible voters.
The key is to protect access for eligible voters. That includes following the current law and established rules of parties qualifying to place a candidate on the ballot. These rules are in place to protect the process from fraud, abuse, and old fashioned cheating. Political parties are allowed to determine some of the rules. In Oklahoma, the Democrat party recently opened primary voting to registered independents while Republicans retained closed primaries. There are also additional procedures set by state law.
At this time, Oklahoma elects all county officials in partisan races. Each eligible party is allowed to select a candidate to participate in the general election. If a party does not field a candidate, then the winner of the primary is declared the winner of the election. To change this, a change in the law is required. Since I have been in the Senate, the change to non-partisan elections for sheriff has been proposed several times. Each time the measure failed to pass out of the chamber. We heard from sheriff candidates who would benefit from the change and from party officials that oppose the change, but until now I haven’t heard much from constituents. I encourage you to weigh in on this as well as any other issues which are of concern to you. Rules aren’t made to be broken; they are however, made to be changed when they no longer represent the will of the people.
If you have any questions about state government or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5628 or writing to me at Senator AJ Griffin, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 428B, State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.