If you’ve been following along with CAIR-OK’s legislative updates you know that we are hyper focused on increasing voter access and strengthening our democracy. We care about this issue because minorities are disproportionately excluded from the ballot and until we all have a voice, our society will remain broken, unfair, and unequitable.

But we have the opportunity to make our government work for us! We can do this by removing barriers to civic engagement for those often left out of the voting process and by strengthening the process itself, seeking to make it more unpartisan, trustworthy, and accessible.

This week was heavy in bills that do just that. Below is a highlight reel of voter access bills that were heard in committee this week. Unfortunately many bills that would have strengthened our democratic process failed, but we will continue to keep you updated week to week on this issue and more.

HB 2704
Presented by Bell, the bill would require higher ed institutions to provide a public notary on campus for absentee ballots and to notify the students ten days before applications for absentee ballots close. BILL FAILED; 2 AYES; 6 NAYE

HB 2705
This bill would create a process to automatically register Oklahoma residents to be registered for voting upon turning voting age. BILL FAILED; 2 AYE; 6 NAYE

HB 1812
The bill is an attempt to increase voter participation by expanding the days for early voting. It copies the Texas legislation which was recently implemented, and they have seen increased turnout.
Concerns were then raised about the cost of expanding early voting days and its fiscal impact on small counties. Blancett offered to strike the title, but the bill was LAID OVER for further consideration.

HB 1843
Presented by Fugate, the bill would allow absentee voters to cast a provisional vote if their ballot is rejected for an arbitrary reason. The provisional vote only counts if the absentee ballot was rejected.

HB 1844
Presented by Fugate, allows for the bypass of primary elections if there is no candidate from the opposing party.

HB 1711
Allows the blind or visually impaired to request ballots virtually DO PASS; 7 AYES; 1 NAYE

HB 1945
Provides additional option for absentee ballots to be sent indefinitely rather than having to renew every year.

HB 1946
Requires counties with 25,000 or more people to have more than one polling place for early voting.
(Sec.) The legislature previously modified the law in the past that large land mass counties would have more than one polling place; however, the cost falls to local county election boards.
Concerns were raised about unfunded mandates and the flexibility for smaller, more rural counties to not be held to the requirement. Bill was LAID OVER for fiscal impact concerns.

See CAIR-OK Policy Platform here https://www.cairoklahoma.com/blog/cair-ok-2021-policy-platform/
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