Say Unconstitutional

Absentee Voting Laws Challenged by Groups

Alicia Andrews

The state Democratic Party and another group are suing the Oklahoma Election Board over several voting procedures it says “severely burden” the right to vote during the coronavirus crisis.

The state party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are asking a federal judge to declare several of Oklahoma’s voting provisions unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit, the groups ask a judge to block the state from enforcing a recently passed notary requirement so long as absentee voters have signed their ballot affidavit.

The legislation was passed along party lines to counter an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling barring the rule requiring absentee ballots be notarized.

The legislation was signed into law by the governor, a Republican.

The lawsuit calls the notary requirement or the alternative requirement that voters must submit a copy of an identification card with their absentee ballot “onerous and unnecessarily burdensome.”

The lawsuit names Secretary of Elections Paul Ziriax and members of the election board.  

The groups are asking a judge to prevent the state Election Board from requiring absentee voters to pay for postage, which they likened to a poll tax, to mail in absentee ballots.

They want a judge to scrap a rule that absentee ballots turned in after 7 p.m. on Election Day be considered invalid.  Finally, they want reversed a legal provision that prevents groups like the Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from collecting and returning absentee ballots for those who may be physically incapacitated or susceptible to the virus crisis.

As other states look to make voting easier during this pandemic, Oklahoma is falling behind on updating its “archaic process,” Alicia Andrews, chairman of the state Democratic Party, commented.

“Oklahomans deserve to make their voices heard safely without further barriers to the voting process as we continue to deal with a worldwide pandemic,” she said. 

“The additional barriers to the mail-in voting process do nothing more than further suppress the votes of marginalized groups and put citizens in harm’s way under the false claims of reducing voter fraud.

“We cannot stand idly by and allow Oklahoma to remain one of three states to fail voters by not removing the notary/witness/photo ID requirement.”

The groups said   the state needs to relax some of its current election procedures because the June 30 primary is right around the corner and because the state likely still will be dealing with the pandemic in November.

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