Friday, March 10, 2023

Oklahoma Legislature passes two election reform bills

Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature passed election reform measures this week. The State House passed HB 1415 (a trigger bill in case federal election laws conflict with state laws), while the Senate passed SB 426 (dealing with voter registration address accuracy). Read about both measures below:

Federal Election Trigger Bill Passes House

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House today approved a bill that would decouple Oklahoma elections from federal ones should federal election laws substantially change.

Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, described House Bill 1415 as a trigger bill that would only take effect should federal election laws change in a way that conflicts with state laws. If that happened, Oklahoma elections would be held separately, and federal laws would be followed only during federal elections.

"Currently, our state election laws are tied to federal regulations," Crosswhite Hader said. "As the U.S. Congress continues to look to amend their election process, as is their prerogative, I am concerned about federal overreach in our state elections. We must be prepared to maintain authority over Oklahoma elections. This bill will simply give us a break from federal elections if it is needed so that we can affirm our state authority. This would only go into effect if the federal government oversteps their authority on our state."

The bill would establish that the Oklahoma attorney general with concurrence of the secretary of the State Election Board would confirm if a trigger has taken place. If or when the action is needed, a committee is to be established within two weeks and make a determination on time, place and manner of election dates for the state within 60 days. The Committee would be made up of four members each appointed by the House and Senate, as well as the state's attorney general, the chair of the District Attorneys Council, and the governor or a designee.

Crosswhite Hader brought forward the same legislation last year, which passed the House but failed to advance in the Senate. This year, she is working in tandem with the Senate and at the previous request of the State Election Board secretary.

HB 1415, presented Tuesday, passed the House with a vote of 77-20. It now moves to the state Senate where it is authored by Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa.

Denise Crosswhite Hader serves house District 41 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes parts of Canadian, Kingfisher, Logan and Oklahoma counties. 

Senate approves Burns’ legislation to ensure precinct accuracy

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 9th) – The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 426 Wednesday, which was authored by Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard. The bill gives county election board secretaries authorization to use global positioning system (GPS) technology to ensure a voter is assigned to the correct precinct.

“I’ve heard from some constituents who’ve had trouble with their assigned precincts after redistricting took effect, and I’m sure others across the state have as well,” Burns said.

If SB 426 becomes law, county election boards would be able to use GPS to determine voters’ precincts beginning this November.

“This legislation also ensures registered voters are voting for those who actually represent them. GPS is a very common technology that can be easily used to check the locations of residences to confirm they are in the correct precinct,” Burns said. “Part of election security is holding fair elections, and this measure will definitely put safeguards in place to ensure Oklahoma voters are receiving accurate representation.”

SB 426 now moves to the House of Representatives for further review. Rep. Rick West, R- Heavener will carry the measure in the House.


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