OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter has responded to two Democratic Party groups challenging the state’s voting laws, telling a federal judge the proposed changes would lead to electoral disruption and facilitate voter fraud.
The brief is in response to a lawsuit filed in May by the Oklahoma Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that complains about several voting procedures, claiming they severely burden Oklahomans’ voting rights during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
The attorney general’s brief points to several facts that show why the current system is safe for voters, including that election officials worked with OU Health Sciences Center to develop safety protocols and that hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans voted safely and successfully in the June 30 primary election both in person and by absentee balloting.
Attorney General Hunter said the state has been proactive in already altering the election rules to make it safe and accessible for voters.
“The plaintiffs’ nonsensical demands would create a system that is a threat to the integrity of our state’s electoral process and sow chaos by upending the election rules this late in the cycle,” Attorney General Hunter said. “During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers took action to ease access to absentee voting during the pandemic as compared to the processes from previous years, among other options they made available to Oklahomans. During our June primary, we saw election officials implement protocols to ensure the safety of workers and voters. Further, the plaintiffs are unable to identify a single individual who will be unable to vote in November because of current state laws, or who contracted COVID-19 from voting. Oklahoma’s current ballot laws do not pose a barrier to the right to vote, instead they promote it.”
Earlier this year, lawmakers passed legislation to make voting during the pandemic easier and safer, including Senate Bill 1779, which authorized expenditures to implement measures for safe in-person voting, expand the pool of potential poll workers and authorize the use of more public facilities as polling places during the pandemic.
Senate Bill 1779 further facilitates absentee voting by authorizing funds for a projected increase in absentee voting, allowing more assistance to those in nursing homes in casting their absentee ballots, and making clear that it is not illegal to gift stamps or envelopes to assist in mailing absentee ballots.
Lawmakers also enacted the ability for voters to include a photocopy of the same ID that would be used for in-person voting in lieu of the other two verification options, which are notarization and witnessing. This new option for absentee voters has never been allowed in Oklahoma history, and further expands citizens’ opportunity to cast absentee ballots.
Oklahomans can find more information on voting during the pandemic at the Election Board’s website, which features a list of places across the state where voters can receive free notarization and ID photocopying services, including drive-through services.
To read the brief, click here.