I am gravely concerned for my health even as we try to go back to normal.
I am a cancer survivor, and like thousands of others in our state, my battle has left me with a compromised immune system.
Waiting in line to vote or even to get my ballot notarized puts my life at unnecessary risk.
However, I know in my heart that our voting rights are the most sacred power we have as Americans. This is especially true given the issues on our ballot this coming June and November.
For those reasons and more, I proudly joined other concerned Oklahomans to file a lawsuit to make voting by absentee ballot easier. On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in our favor.
Prior to that ruling, Oklahoma was one of only three states that required absentee ballots to be notarized, a needless step that does about as much to prevent fraud as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
How do I know? Because it’s the same penalty for voter fraud regardless if it’s notarized or not.
This step was a simple ploy to reduce our say in the governance of our state and our country.
To put it another way, requiring absentee votes to be notarized was a barrier to democracy. Not only that, but during the current pandemic, it was a barrier that puts people’s lives on the line — my own included.
With this ruling, voters can self-notarize absentee ballots. Anyone who does so fraudulently will still face the same stiff criminal penalties. The elections are still secure, but now they are also safe.
The ruling means three important things:
• Voting should not be life-threatening.
• More Oklahomans should be able to vote.
• Our state will set the bar for expanding voting rights rather than continuing to ride the bottom of most federal rankings.
We have lost thousands to coronavirus already. Several of the citizens who stood in line to vote in Wisconsin last month have gotten sick.
It didn’t take the Supreme Court long to rule, but it also shouldn’t be a hard decision to make voting by absentee ballot safer for everyone.
This should not be about politics. It’s about the rights we all have as Americans. Citizens should not have to risk their health and safety to exercise their right to vote.
Peggy Winton, a cancer survivor, lives in Tulsa.