OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislators said bills signed into law last week will provide additional security to Oklahoma elections and protect legitimate voters, including military personnel overseas.
The bills were presented by Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus.
SB 375 specifies that primary elections will occur on the third Tuesday of June instead of the last Tuesday of June. Additionally, it moves the starting date of the candidate filing period from the second Wednesday in April to the first Wednesday in April. Howard said this ensures election officials have sufficient time during the 45-day window between the last primary election and the runoff to meet the federal and state deadlines to get absentee ballots to servicemen and women deployed overseas. The new law went into effect when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed it.
SB 376 clarifies that if someone signs on behalf of a physically incapacitated voter on an absentee ballot affidavit, the assistant must sign the voter’s name. There is another section on the affidavit for the assistant to sign his or her personal name. Confusion over current law wording resulted in what should have been valid ballots being discarded because they could not be traced back to the registered voter, Howard said. The bill goes into effect Nov. 1.
SB 377, which also goes into effect Nov. 1, will require cancellation of voter registration of anyone excused from jury duty for not being a U.S. citizen. County court clerks will prepare a list each month of these individuals and submit it to their county election board secretary, who will cancel the registrations and report them to the district attorney and the U.S. attorney for that county.
The bill also will allow county election boards to re-send returned voter I.D. cards to the mailing address on file if the card has been returned to the board due to “no mail receptacle,” which occurs in rural areas where voters cannot or choose not to receive mail at their physical address. Voters also will be allowed to get their voter I.D. card in person at the county election board with proof of identity.