Let’s talk about voter list maintenance. 

The routine government function of making sure voter rolls are clear of people who have died or moved away isn’t a particularly exciting subject, but it’s important that it is done well. Though election fraud is exceptionally rare in Oklahoma, the likelihood of someone being able to cheat the system increases when ineligible voters linger.

The Oklahoma State Election Board sends address confirmation notices to inactive voters every two years and obtains state health department death reports monthly in an effort to keep the rolls updated. But getting quick information on someone who has moved or died out-of-state can be difficult. 

To improve this process, the Legislature in 2021 approved a bill authorizing Oklahoma to join the Electronic Registration Information Center. The D.C.-based organization uses a sophisticated software system to compare voter rolls and motor vehicle records from several states and identify duplicate registrations. 

ERIC also leverages this technology to identify people who are eligible but unregistered to vote, which member states are required to notify. This program has proved successful in states like Colorado, where registration among its voting-eligible population increased 8% four years after joining the organization. 

While Oklahoma seemed poised to join ERIC a few years ago, the state has reversed course on partnering with the organization. A bill that’s close to reaching Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk would set several new requirements for any multistate organization the state joins, including that they must not require outreach to eligible but unregistered voters. That would effectively bar Oklahoma from joining ERIC, the only active organization of its kind in the U.S. 

In my latest story, I examine several factors at play in this decision, including cost concerns, data privacy fears the ripple effect of decisions made in other states. Some Republican states, including Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia, opted to pull out of ERIC earlier after member states rejected several of their proposed changes. 

Have thoughts or questions about this story? Or another story idea you think Oklahoma Watch should look into? Let me know at Kross@Oklahomawatch.org

What I’m Reading This Week

  • Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Bills That Would Ensure Access to Overdose-Reversing Drugs: Senate Bills 711 and 712 would have used state funding to pay for overdose reversal drugs for people released from prison, jail or overdose care at a hospital. create a program to educate these people on the signs of overdose and how to administer the medication. The Legislature can override the veto with a two-thirds majority in each chamber. [KOSU]
  • Stitt Vetoes Bill That Secured Rights for Native American Students: Lawmakers had been trying for three years to enshrine the right of Native American students to wear tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies. [CNHI Oklahoma]
  • House Passes School Choice Tax Credit Bill, Holds it From Governor For Leverage With Senate: House Republicans have insisted that rural Oklahoma must receive additional support “in exchange” for creating the new tax credits, which are expected to be used heavily in urban areas with more private school options. [NonDoc]

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