Every two years, the Oklahoma State Election Board purges the voter registration rolls of inactive voter registrations. This is nothing nefarious or new, it is just something they are required to do. If someone doesn’t vote for a couple of years and they don’t respond to a letter sent to the address on file, they are removed from the registration rolls. If there are duplicates, or if they get notice from an entity asking for a removal of an old record, those are removed. It is all part of keeping the best record of voters in the state.
However, this does mean that if someone has moved, but has not updated their voter registration, they may have been removed from the rolls after the notice was sent but did not reach them. So it would be wise to do some outreach over the next few months to make sure that everyone is registered if they want to be. This is important for a variety of reasons.
The first reason is that if you want to run for office, you must have been a registered voter in the party you wish to run under for at least six months before the filing period. That means that if you want to file for candidacy on April 9, you need to have been registered to vote in the party of your choice since October 8. That is just a few weeks away.
Additionally, if you want to vote in any primary or vote in the November election, you must be registered roughly 30 days before the election. So it is important to be registered as early as possible.
But back to the actual numbers. The state has purged over 145 thousand voters from the rolls. Nearly half of those were registered Democratic and about a fifth were Independents. But there is some good news in this. This purging was done back in March and in the intervening months, 4,582 people registered as Independent. The only other registration to make any gains was the Republican party with 1,544 registrations. The Democratic party lost over three thousand registrations.
This is great news for supporters of alternative parties and candidates. This means that more and more people are getting fed up with the current duopoly parties and are looking for alternatives that are not generally found in Oklahoma. As more people register Independent, we can hopefully see stronger support for alternative candidates and alternative party petitions in the coming years. Additionally, this will put pressure on those in the Legislature to pass more Independent friendly election reforms.
It is expected that the Election Board will release fully updated numbers in January of 2014 as it does every year. They also release numbers in November of each election year. We hope to see that trend of more voters joining the Independent rolls continue strong in the coming months and years.