Statement, attributable to OK Policy Executive Director Ahniwake Rose:
On Thursday, the Oklahoma Senate advanced SB 210, which will cement barriers to voting by mail, to Gov. Stitt’s desk. Passed in the middle of a pandemic, this bill would roll back a state Supreme Court decision from just days ago and continues the shameful shell game that began yesterday in the House.
In the midst of a global health crisis, our lawmakers should be looking for opportunities to strengthen Oklahoma’s election integrity, ensuring not only that our elections are secure but also that Oklahomans may exercise their right to vote freely and without fear. SB 210 would reinstate Oklahoma’s absentee ballot notarization requirement, or require mail-in ballots to be accompanied by a photocopy of a voter’s ID, both measures employed by just two other states.
An advocate for SB 210 said during Floor debate that Oklahoma had other options besides those in the bill to ensure our elections are secure. Nonetheless, our lawmakers have chosen to propel a measure that only reinstates the inequities the state Supreme Court removed just days ago, and they have taken advantage of the flexibility they afforded themselves to pass crucial legislation in the middle of a public health emergency in order to do so.
On Wednesday, state lawmakers transferred language reinstating the ballot notarization requirement into three separate bills in an effort to advance it as quickly as possible.
House Floor proceedings were briefly delayed in order for members to determine which amendment to which bill they were meant to be considering. The language ultimately settled in SB 210 less than an hour before the bill was heard. The bill passed 24-76 Wednesday afternoon along mostly party lines.
SB 210 was then added to the floor agenda for the Senate late Wednesday night. While it would have been assigned to committee under normal circumstances, the rules set by lawmakers in response to the pandemic meant it went straight to the Senate Floor, where it passed 38-9.