Over the last few years, Republicans in the State Legislature seemed to have been on a warpath to reduce the number of people registering to vote. The introduction of VoterID was a cornerstone of that ideal. So we never expected to see what we have here. This year, three bills have been introduced that would greatly increase the number of people eligible to register to vote.
The first bill, introduced by Senator Holt, will allow for early registration for potential voters 16 and 17 years of age. SB999 will allow anyone 16 or 17 years old, who will not turn 18 before the next election, to preregister to vote. Upon turning 18, the Election Board will automatically register these people as voters. This bill will likely result in many more young people registering to vote and increase the likelihood they will participate in future elections.
The next two bills, SB1042 by Senator Matthews and HB2277 by Representative Goodwin, would restore voting rights to all felons after they complete their sentences. While the two bills go about this change in different ways, they both will result in one of the largest legally disenfranchised groups of potential voters having that right restored to them.
All three of these bills are positive steps in making Oklahoma a much more voter friendly state and will result in not just more people being registered to vote, but also more people participating in elections.