One of the most important tenets of a free society is the right to vote. Over the last century, different groups have fought hard to earn this right, and it must be protected. It’s equally important, however, that we protect the integrity of our elections so that only people eligible to vote in a specific election do so, and their votes are counted properly.
This issue became pronounced in our last national election where there were accusations of ballot stuffing, of pre-filled absentee ballots being mailed to voters, of electronic tampering, of missing ballots, of votes being miscounted or suppressed, and worse. Several elections nationwide were challenged in court cases that drug out for months. The states where concerns developed are now enacting polices Oklahoma already has in place.
Oklahoma already has a reputation for one of the fairest election systems in the country, but there’s always room for improvement. If citizens don’t have confidence in the process then democracy as a whole loses.
House members worked diligently over the interim with our state and local election officials and other experts to identify areas our system can be improved. This resulted in numerous bills this session focused on enhancing election security and transparency and ensuring only legally registered voters vote in our elections.
One area of concern is with out-of-state activists who have targeted Oklahoma trying to force East- and Westcoast policies here in the heartland. These groups have realized our Constitution and our statutes can be changed without as much work as in other states. Currently, they can get all the signatures they need on an initiative petition from the state’s largest metro areas, leaving rural voters without a say in things that will govern their lives. Two recent examples of this are Medicaid expansion and the legalization of medical marijuana.
Measures passed in the House this session to address these and other concerns would:
- Improve voter roll information;
- Investigate suspicious multiple registrations from the same address;
- Make absentee ballot requests more secure;
- Require committees created to support or oppose state questions to disclose financial interests to the state Ethics Commission;
- Decouple state and local elections from federal if federal should federal election laws substantially change;
- Require all ballots to be paper ballots and all election watchers to be present in person and to prohibit any devices or equipment used to count votes from connecting to the internet;
- Asking voters to place a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution that only U.S. citizens with a valid identification are qualified to vote in Oklahoma;
- Set a 60% approval threshold for state questions causing an increase in expenditures by state government;
- Change the percentage of signatures of voters needed to propose initiatives and referendums from statewide to each congressional district; and
- Require constitutional change state questions to have cost impact statements.
If I can do anything to help or to get you information, please feel free to reach out to my office at (405) 557-7332 or email me at email@example.com.