Oklahoma Lawmakers Want To Make Absentee Voting More Difficult

Earlier this week, Democrats, liberals and dead voters in rural counties cheered when the Oklahoma Supreme Court tossed out an Oklahoma Election Board ruling that required most absentee ballots to be notarized. Unfortunately for them, that joy lasted about 72 hours.

Just three days after the Court’s ruling, Oklahoma GOP lawmakers – a.k.a. the other virus that haunts Oklahoma – passed a bill that will make the notary requirement part of state law:

Mere days after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized, House Republicans moved Wednesday to reverse the ruling.

Despite fierce opposition from House Democrats, Republicans passed an amended bill that seeks to reinstate the notary requirement.

The amendment’s author, Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, said the legislation was born out of recommendations from State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, Oklahoma’s top elections official.

Senate Bill 210, which passed the House on a near-party-line vote, would require absentee ballots to be notarized, which was the procedure in place until the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered otherwise on Monday.

That’s absurd. I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat. We are never going to achieve progress in this country until we free ourselves from the evil grips of big notary! These tag agents, bank tellers and other signature sticklers weasel themselves into all aspects of American life, and make millions doing it. We can apply for a mortgage on our phone, but we still need someone to stamp and sign a document, and then write something in a little book, just to vote? It’s absurd.

Here’s how the State GOP henchman Chris Kannady justified the bill:

The amendment’s author, Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, said the legislation was born out of recommendations from State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, Oklahoma’s top elections official…

The Supreme Court’s ruling was an indicator state law on absentee voting needs to be updated, Kannady said. The court did not strike down Oklahoma’s voting practices, it simply indicated state law needs clarity, he said.

Kannady also suggested voter fraud would increase without the legislation, citing the sheer number of people who have requested absentee ballots since the court’s ruling as an example of voter fraud. He did not make a clear link between why more requests for absentee ballots indicates voter fraud is occurring.

That’s hysterical. During a time when our state’s seniors (a.k.a. voters) are encouraged to avoid doing things like getting out in public to vote, this freedom loving nitwit sees in uptick in absentee ballot requests and automatically assumes it’s voter fraud. Here’s a quote he gave to The Oklahoman:

“I’ve had people tell me that it is absolutely ridiculous that I go and serve my country… and now I want to curtail voting,” Kannady said. “The worst thing you can do is fraudulently vote. To me, it is akin to stolen valor. And this is the way we can prevent that from happening.”

Well, at least people are telling Chris the truth.

Anyway, as a guy who doesn’t trust either of our political parties, I don’t have a big of a problem with reasonable voter ID requirements. Like most Americans citizens, I want my elections to be rigged by wealthy donors, special interests and political elites – not some dude casting multiple ballots so his buddy will be elected County Commissioner.

That being said, much like someone in their 20s actually voting, voter fraud is a rare activity. Requiring someone to get their absentee ballot notarized seems more like a restrictive measure designed to keep certain people from voting than it does to prevent certain people from voting multiple times. Considering Oklahoma lawmakers are behind the bill, that’s probably the case.

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17 Responses

  1. We’ve voted by mail in the last few elections. We’re old and don’t like to stand in line forever, especially for presidential elections. The notary requirement was a bother but our friendly bank manager did it for us. Her book was almost full so this is not a new phenomenon. They have no evidence that voting this way is any more fraudulent than in person. And I was not asked for ID every time I voted the old way. One other minor issue in absentee voting is postage. The ballot and multiple envelopes required always costs more than a regular letter so usually, a trip to the post office is also necessary unless you can figure it out at home and have the stamps on hand.

    1. By law, your friendly bank manager may only notarize 20 ballots per election. Democrats just tried to increase that number to 50 during the pandemic, but Republicans killed the idea.

    2. A first class stamp will get it there. I should know, first election I voted in was the Oregon spring special election (a mail in election as all special elections in the 90s were) in 2000, where the only thing on the ballot was to eliminate in person voting entirely.

  2. Let me preface this by saying yes I did contact my county election board, not that it did any good.
    Want to talk about voter fraud? Last governor election the one that brought us education by Sunday school and her husband Karen, I witnessed either fraud or voter interference at my polling station. I walked in and they divide you by parties. A group of 4 in the other line said they had applied for absentee ballots but had not used them. They poll volunteers talked for a min then asked their names, and handed each a ballot. They didn’t request the group turn over their unused ballots nor did they request the group sign an affidavit. State election laws state you must bring unused absentee ballot and/or sign an affidavit.
    Then another volunteer was going around and helping elderly with the state questions. He wasn’t just explaining them, he was saying vote yay on this one and nay on that one. He was then telling who to vote for if they didn’t know the names. At one point he said I can’t believe Trump is president, but isn’t it great? He went on with more flattery but I cannot remember what he said exactly.
    In every non partisan research study it has been found that voter fraud is basically non existent. Less than 10 incidents of fraud in every national election. In fact there are more UFO sightings than voter fraud.

    1. You should indeed have reported the poll worker, and the election board should have acted. That behavior is 100% illegal. A voter is permitted to bring along a relative or friend to help with voting, but no unofficial “volunteer” is allowed to hang around to “help” elderly voters.

      A person who has requested an absentee ballot can still vote in person. But if they mail in the (notarized!) absentee ballot and also vote in person, they WILL get a call afterward from the District Attorney’s office.

      1. So much this. Also makes for a good argument for eliminating in person voting.

  3. The Republicans in charge of one of the reddest states in the country want to make voting as hard as possible? They live in fear that some day the majority will wake up and realize that the GOP has been screwing them for years to the benefit of the legislators’ corporate overlords. Maybe some day, finding someone to hate won’t be enough to sway voters.

  4. What has the greater influence on the outcome of an election:

    1) A vote cast fraudulently, or

    2) A vote NOT cast by a duly registered voter due to the voter’s circumstances, such as long lines at the polls or having to chase around to find a notary public.

    Think about it. That’s not a hard question.

    Oklahoma remains one of only THREE states to require absentee ballots to be notarized – the other two being Missouri and (of course) Mississippi. There is zero evidence of absentee fraud in other states, except for that one Republican congressional primary in 2018.

    Most people don’t know how tight Oklahoma’s controls are on absentee ballots are. They aren’t handed out in the parking lot at Walmart. The county election board must first receive a written application from a registered voter for an absentee ballot. The ballot is then MAILED to the voter’s mailing address of record, and that fact is noted in the voter’s computer record. There is no other way to obtain an absentee ballot.

    The ballot’s outer return envelope contains a bar code that identifies the individual voter, and the fact of receipt of the ballot at the county election board is entered into the database. It would be very darn difficult to generate fake absentee ballot submissions, with or without notarization. Supposed concern over fraud of this kind is bullshit.

    I have no problem with “voter ID” for in-person voting. Without it, anyone could impersonate another voter at the polls. Oklahoma does this right. You don’t need any ID that every voter doesn’t already have: your voter ID card is sufficient. If you have lost yours, you can have a replacement mailed to you, free for the asking.

    Clearly, this record-speed move by Republicans (and only them) to restore notarization has nothing to do with any real concern over voter fraud. It has everything to do with making it more difficult for registered voters to cast ballots. Republicans know very well that a larger voter turnout is usually bad news for them.

    I hope that we can try to correct this stupid notarization requirement by initiative petition, as we have for medical cannabis and Medicaid expansion. It will never happen through legislative action while Republicans rule the roost.

    1. That Republican congressional primary that I mentioned took place in North Carolina.

    2. I’m afraid they got onto us about initiative petitions too, and made that more difficult too. God forbid the regular Oklahomans–the peasants–exert their power over the imperious, beautiful overlords and oligarchs.

      Conservatives rule red states with impunity and keep winning because they rig the electoral infrastructure to benefit themselves (example: Gerrymandering, purging voter rolls, etc.). If they had their way, the right to vote would be stripped from what they think are “undesirable” populations (eg. women, people of colour, immigrants/people in the process of naturalisation, people between 18 and 21, who admittedly don’t turn out in the numbers they need to). When and how does this imbalance of power end facing those odds?

      Speaking of imbalance of power, how many red states besides Oklahoma have an overwhelming, monolithic GOP supermajority? And why are they supermajorities? Even here, I’ve become convinced it’s not just infrastructure-diddling like they’ve managed to do (worse in other states), but also a meanness exhibited by that one group that reliably goes to the polls: Older populations, people who came up in another time and are still unwilling to accept women, people of colour, etc. as fellow humans. We want to think that unacceptable behaviour will die with them, but they also raised children, often to be just like them, and they’re raising children the same way.

      Something’s got to give.

  5. Kannady, besides being full of shit, is a Republican. As we all know a Republican will do anything to win an election except get the most votes.

  6. This is one more reason to be happy about relocating from Oklahoma to the Pacific Northwest. Oregon makes voting by mail all but mandatory. I’m not sure about about the specifics of voting in Washington, but I’m told it’s pretty similar. Ballots are mailed out to every registered voter prior to each election, with one nonpartisan voting guide sent to every registered address. You sit in the comfort of your living room and make your choices at your own leisure, with plenty of opportunity to seek out or call anyone you like with questions about candidates and initiatives. If you made a mess of your ballot, your dog chewed it up, or it somehow got lost in the mail you can go down to the county election board and request a replacement, free of charge. To finalize it, you can put a stamp on it and leave it in your own mailbox for your carrier to take it to the post office or, if you (were)* too cheap to spring for a stamp, drop it in one of the drive-by/walk-up drop boxes located throughout every county. No notary or witness required.

    *Beginning in 2020, Oregon ballots are now mailed along with a prepaid return envelope, eliminating the too-poor/cheap/lazy-to-buy-a-stamp excuse.

    1. Lived in Seattle for 10 years, this is exact same process. I loved voting this way and hope for the day OK will modernize like this.

  7. Really fun being here isn’t it.

  8. This should be criminal.

    We vote by mail in Colorado and it’s great. So much better than in person in Tulsa when I lived there. I can’t imagine waiting in lines now.

  9. Whatever the weather or the possibility of getting sick I will vote by mail or in person. We need to vote for change from top to bottom.

  10. Anyone here ever heard of Ballot Harvesting?

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