Oklahoma has a good election system, but we can make it better: Safer and open to broader participation.
When the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes, we think a top priority should be a thorough study of how we can improve our elections and at the top of that list should be expanding the opportunity for Oklahomans to vote securely by mail.
Tuesday’s election demonstrated that vote-by-mail can be done safely, securely and efficiently in the state.
An unprecedented number of Oklahomans decided they didn’t want to risk COVID-19 infection by going to the polls in person. Instead, they took on the state’s needlessly bureaucratic absentee voting system.
Some 94,614 voters figured out the difficult vote-by-mail procedures. That was 14% of the total turnout of 674,040. In the equivalent election in 2018, the absentee voting figure was 15,336 out of 452,606 voters — 3.3%.
Obviously, Oklahomans prefer the safety of voting from home, and the state needs to accommodate them.
We do not advocate for eliminating in-person voting. For some people that will always will be the preferred method, and it should always be available to them.
But, given the option, we think a lot of Oklahomans would prefer voting at home.
The most important way to do that would be to eliminate the needless requirement that absentee votes be notarized. The state Legislature created a one-year exception to the notary requirement for June’s election.
What was demonstrated? The notarization only accomplishes voter suppression. It does nothing to eliminate vote fraud. Anyone determined to risk a felony conviction to vote twice could just as easily fool a notary as they could a polling place judge.
Almost every other state in the nation has figured this out, and, frankly, Oklahoma showed it could too on Tuesday.
Oklahomans want the ease and security of voting by mail. We’ve demonstrated that it can be done securely and that the result is a broader participation of citizens, and isn’t that what elections are supposed to be about?