In January of 2022, the Oklahoma State Legislature had many bills related to election integrity filed by several lawmakers. Some of them were very good bills that would investigate the 2020 election and address the core issues surrounding Oklahoma’s elections and election law. Some of them continue on the path toward keeping Oklahoma’s elections on the way to complete digital control, from voter registration to non transparent counting of the votes, all of which would be directly out of the hands of the citizens of Oklahoma and controlled by others. So, what is the status of those bills, as of March 18, 2022, where did they end up, who is responsible for the ultimate outcome for each bill, and what would their impact be on election integrity in our state if passed?
There were several bills filed in the Oklahoma State Senate regarding election integrity that Oklahoma Liberty & Integrity Group was watching that would truly impact our elections for the better, given the problems we see with our data and issues with the voter registration rolls.
Authored by Senator Nathan Dahm-R . This bill would require notary publics to submit copies of their receipt books to county election boards within a certain timeframe before an election. It was important because notaries must by law only notarize a certain number of ballots off site of their place of business. In order to notarize ballots off site, they must be granted special permission by the County Election Board of their county. This is a way to audit notary books and make sure that law is being followed. This bill died in the Rules Committee without a hearing.
Authored by Senator Nathan Dahm-R. This bill would require the State Election Board to update the election system to create a unique identifier code on each ballot printed in two places, perforate one of those sections for the voter, digitize the ballots and make them available to the public, and allow voters to look up their own ballot online using the generated code only known to themselves. This would have been an important improvement for accountability to the voters to any election system that uses scanning machines and computer tabulation to count cast votes. This bill died in the Rules Committee without a hearing.
Authored by Senator Nathan Dahm-R. This bill would set rules for applying for absentee ballots, listing valid reasons for a request for an absentee ballot to be granted. This would disallow the mass mail out of ballots and require that people have one of eleven listed valid reasons for requesting an absentee ballot, such as disability, military, etc. This bill died in the Rules Committee without a hearing. Detecting a pattern here?
Authored by Senator Nathan Dahm-R. This is the most important bill regarding election integrity that was filed this session. It was filed in a special session late last year and was not heard. This bill would require the appointment of an independent third party to conduct a forensic audit of the Nov 2020 election in the State of Oklahoma in designated counties, establish deadlines for the completion of said audit, require submission of a report, and designate funding for such an audit. This bill died in the Appropriations Committee after being kicked there by the Rules Committee.
Authored by Senator Warren Hamilton-R. This Joint Resolution would have voters in Oklahoma decide on a Constitutional Amendment to the State Constitution requiring post election audits permanently after every election. These would be random but guarantee that once every 10 years all counties would be audited. This bill died in the, you guessed it, Rules Committee.
Did any election integrity legislation make it out of any Senate Committee and to the floor for a vote? As of today, March 19, 2022, one bill has make it to the floor of the Senate, been voted on, and passed.
Authored by Senator Haste-R. Co Authored by Representative Lepak-R of the House. This bill amends 26 O.S. 2021 Sections 14-108.1, 16-105, and 16-123, and puts the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma in charge of reports of election fraud and irregularities in the state. Should they choose not to investigate the reports, they will be designated to the appropriate county DA for investigation. Currently, the Attorney General is not explicitly listed as an investigating authority for election fraud in Oklahoma. This is an important change in the election law which allows a statewide elected official to determine how reports of election fraud are investigated. The vote on the floor was 42 Yeas, 6 Nays. It now goes to the House for a vote.
Maybe if Haste had authored the other bills, they’d have made it out of the Rules Committee? The behavior of the Rules Committee certainly begs the question. This allows the Senate leadership to claim that they acted on election integrity in their body, without doing what is necessary to address the two most important issues that govern elections in Oklahoma, absentee ballots and making the machines more transparent to the voters of the state. Not only that, the bill that came out of the Senate has a provision that is addressed also in the House by a bill filed by Representative Nicole Miller.
The largest transgression by the Rules Committee and Appropriations Committee against the people of Oklahoma is the abject failure, given what is being uncovered in other states, including red states, to prove to the people of the state of Oklahoma, given plenty of suspicion in the data from the 2020 election from THIS state, and the condition of our voter registration rolls brought to their attention by citizen groups investigating the 2020 election, that our elections are indeed the best and most secure in the country by killing SB 1690 and SJR 47, which would ensure their integrity permanently through regular forensic audits.
The House isn’t faring much better when it comes to getting critical election integrity bills out of committee, unless they keep the status quo when it comes to machines, farming out our voter registration rolls to an unelected committee comprised of 31 individuals, 30 of which aren’t from Oklahoma, or making small changes to absentee voter requirements. All progress is important, but some progress is more important than the rest. It’s the opposite of progress to keep in place a system that facilitates further use of machines and the sharing of sensitive voter information in our elections.
Authored by Representative Sean Roberts -R. This bill, before amended in committee, would require all Oklahomans to reregister to vote by 2023. The amended version provides protections to poll watchers and verified voter registrations. The reregistration language was stripped out in committee, perhaps the most important legislation filed this session to clean up our voter rolls. This bill passed the Elections and Ethics Committee on March 2, 2022.
Authored by Representative Eric Roberts -R. This bill sets stricter rules for mailing out voter registration cards, sets rules for cancelling a voter registration, requirements if a voter’s registration is listed at an address with five or more other registered voters, rules for reporting deaths to the State Election Board, and rules for voting if a voter’s registration has been listed as inactive for problems in the personal information listed above. This bill passed the House on March 14, 2022.
Authored by Representative Lepak -R. This bill prohibits the use of private funds for elections. It requires elections be paid for by public funds. It passed the House of Representatives March 10, 2022.
Authored by Representative Eric Roberts -R. This bill provides rules for applying for an absentee ballot electronically. It passed the House March 9, 2022.
Authored by Representative Nicole Miller -R. This bill requires ballots to be printed on paper, and moves the investigation of election fraud and complaints to the Attorney General’s office first, then to the local DA’s office should the Attorney General decide not to pursue it at the state level. It prohibits the appearance of poll watchers over electronic device and prohibits the connection of devices to the internet. It passed the Elections and Ethics Committee on Feb 21, 2022.
Authored by Representative Jim Olsen -R. This bill requires the State Election Board check the voter registration database and report addresses with 10 or more voter registrations to local DA’s for investigation and possible criminal referral. This measure passed the House of Representatives on March 8, 2022.
While the passage of all of these measures in the House is important, there were a few bills that were allowed to die in committee, such as HB 3154, authored by Representative Kevin West -R. This bill would have required voters to be notified of particular information by mail before an election, such as what will be on the upcoming ballot. HB2975, authored by Representative Jim Olsen, would have outlined legal boundaries for cancelling a voter’s registration. And where is the House legislation calling for a forensic audit of the 2020 election, which we know warrants an investigation, given the 77 county data that has been gathered and analyzed by Oklahoma Liberty & Integrity Group as well as others independently investigating elections in Oklahoma?
None of the measures that passed out of committee in the House would make a dent to solve the problems of election integrity as we know of them in the State of Oklahoma today. And the measures that would have gone a long way to securing our elections died in committee of a supposedly conservative GOP led state legislature. Now, why is that? And who are sitting on these committees killing the bills we need that would give the voters and citizens of Oklahoma peace of mind that our elections are truly safeguarded in this state? Who in this state needs phone calls and possible primarying by the GOP membership and citizens in their districts?
The Senate Rules Committee
Darcy Jech, Chair
David Bullard, Vice Chair
The Senate Appropriations Committee
Roger Thompson, Chair
Chuck Hall, Vice Chair
John Michael Montgomery
The House Elections and Ethics Committee
Jim Olsen, Chair
Max Wolfley, Vice Chair
Meanwhile, while the above Senate committees are busy killing any meaningful provisions to ensure election integrity, the Senate Public Safety Committee is busy passing overwhelmingly, SB 1591, a bill to allow undocumented workers, aka illegal aliens who are here against immigration laws, to be issued driver’s licenses. Now what can driver’s licenses be used for in Oklahoma? And what does membership in ERIC require of every state? A list of all people registered to drive in a state, as well as a requirement that any persons that ERIC find on that list not be registered to vote be notified by the state that they should register to vote. Some states even automatically, without a person’s consent, register them to vote as soon as they get a driver’s license. But, this is not SOME state. It’s Oklahoma. So, what is going on? Maybe we should ask the Public Safety Committee members in the Senate. Maybe they want primary opponents? Some of the names on this committee look familiar……from killing election integrity bills. So what is going on? Maybe their constituents and citizens of this state should ask them, as respectfully as they feel necessary.
The Senate Public Safety Committee
Lonnie Paxton, Chair (voted YAY)
Darrell Weaver, Vice Chair (the LONE NAY vote on SB 1591)
Mark Allen (Co Authoring 1591 and voted YAY)
Micheal Bergstrom (not present to vote)
Bill Coleman (voted YAY)
Nathan Dahm (not present to vote)
Kim David (not present to vote)
Darcy Jech (voted YAY)
Dave Rader (voted YAY)
Cody Rogers (voted YAY)