A package of bills that would’ve made it harder for state questions to get on the ballot, or pass on Election Day, are among the bills no longer moving forward this session.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how there were dozens of bill filed before the start of the session that were seeking to change how, when and where Oklahomans vote.
But after a recent legislative deadline passed for bills to clear both the full Senate and House in order to continue, few proposals remain.
The no-longer-eligible bills include several proposals that advocates and experts warned could block all but the most well-funded groups from getting a question on the ballot through Oklahoma’s initiative and referendum process.
Perhaps the most far-reaching of those was House Joint Resolution 1002. It would have required citizen-led groups to collect a set number of signatures from each of the state’s 77 counties.
Instead of needing to collect between between 8% and 15% of the total votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election regardless of where voters live, the resolution would have required groups to collect that many signatures from each county in the state.
Other proposals would require constitutional amendments to receive over 55% of the vote and make the state auditor responsible for determining projected costs of state questions.
When they passed the House on party-line votes with the vast majority of Republicans supporting them, it appeared the proposal were heading for passage and would be put on the ballot for voters to decide.
But Senate leaders, either because of time constraints or because they didn’t want to take up the measures, never brought them to a floor vote by the April 28 deadline.
Other notable election-related bills that could’ve made it harder for some to vote also failed. This includes proposals that would’ve required all Oklahomans to reregister to vote after 2023 and amending the state’s constitution to require identification to vote.
But bills that sought to expand voting opportunities didn’t fare much better. Several bills, authored by Democrats, didn’t make the cut. This includes bills to set up an automatic voter registration system, create a process to “cure” ballots that are rejected because of errors, help restore voting rights for ex-felons and add more early-voting days.
Some proposal remain alive with three weeks remaining in the session. House and Senate negotiators are working out differences on a bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering with state elections.
A bill that would ban the state or any election official from soliciting or taking money to help conduct state or local elections passed both chambers and was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt last week.
What do you think? Do you think any of the bills that failed to pass should be reconsidered? Or are there other proposals you would like to see. As always, let me know what you think by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or finding me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.
If you haven’t already, time is running out to get registered to vote for the upcoming June 28 primary.
Oklahomans have until June 3, less than a month away now, to make sure they are eligible to cast their vote. So be sure to check out the State Election Board’s voter registration portal to make sure you are set!
What I’m Reading This Week
- A special legislative committee investigating the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s now-defunct partnership with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q will hold its first meeting next week. [The Oklahoman]
- Legislation sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday would bar state government from doing business with financial institutions that “boycott energy companies” — unless doing so would cost the state money. [Tulsa World]
- On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed it may be prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, Stitt signed the latest piece of abortion-banning legislation to arrive on his desk. [Tulsa World]
- A new effort to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma for adult recreational use gets underway, as organizers behind State Question 820 have started gathering signatures that they hope will put the issue before voters in November. [NonDoc]
- A House bill once intended to lessen the punishment for cockfighting was turned into a bill to increase punishments for loitering. [Journal Record]
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