A mass mailing intended to boost voter registration has instead confused many of the form letter’s recipients, state election officials and the Tulsa nonprofit organization responsible say.
OKVote, in a statement on its website, says it hired a direct mail company to identify Oklahomans who had recently moved and were not registered to vote.
Those people — about 31,000 in all — received a preprinted voter registration form and a letter stating that, according to state Election Board records, they were not registered to vote at their current address.
But some of those receiving the letter — OKVote says 1%-2% in the statement on its website — are properly registered to vote. Others thought the mailing simply inappropriate.
The mailings do not solicit money and do not appear to direct recipients to a particular party or candidate.
State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said OKVote “has good intentions” but has “caused confusion” with its campaign. He noted Oklahomans can check their voter registration status through the voter portal on the Oklahoma Election Board website or by calling local election boards. Voter registration forms may be printed from the website and returned by mail or in person.
“If you want to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, find your polling place, get a sample ballot, or sign up for election reminders, the best place to get these services is from the state election board or your county election board,” Ziriax said in a news release.
Many of the information links on the OKVote website actually direct the user to the state election board site.
The Oklahoma Legislature authorized online registration in 2015 but has yet to be implemented, in part because leaders wanted to get the state’s Real ID system in place first.
The OKVote website allows a person to enter their information, which is then loaded into a voter registration form and mailed to the person requesting it. The form has to be signed and returned to a state or county election board with proper verification.
According to OKVote, about two-thirds of eligible Oklahomans are registered to vote, which would put it in the bottom one-quarter nationally.
“Any amount of voter confusion is regrettable, and we sincerely apologize for this mistake,” OKVote founder Mark Whitmire said in the online statement. “Our goal is to help every eligible resident register to vote so their voice can be heard in all elections, and we aim to fulfill this mission with transparency and accountability.”
OKVote said it has received 6,500 registration requests since April.