Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans risk being purged from the state’s voter rolls if they don’t vote again by the 2022 general election or at least confirm their addresses.
State election officials said they mailed more than 181,000 address confirmations to Oklahomans in an effort to confirm voting eligibility.
But as of late last week, 134,000 registered voters had yet to respond, said Misha Mohr, a spokeswoman for the State Election Board, in a statement.
Letters went to individuals who haven’t voted since the 2016 general election, or hold duplicate registrations or no longer have an Oklahoma driver license.
“As the state election board secretary, I want every eligible person to be registered to vote, and I want every registered voter to vote,” said Paul Ziriax in a statement. “However, I also have a legal responsibility to maintain clean voter rolls to protect against those who would attempt to harm our democracy by using outdated voter lists to tamper with our elections.”
Voters who do not respond to their letters by Saturday will be declared inactive. They’ll still be eligible to vote through the 2022 general election. However, if no voter activity occurs by then, they’ll be removed from the voter rolls, Mohr said.
“In some ways, it’s scarier than it sounds because inactives can still vote and they’re still on the rolls,” said David Glover, the founder of badvoter.org, a website that tracks Oklahoma voter participation. Glover also tries to educate the public about voting laws.
He said he wishes Oklahoma had a different system to confirm voter eligibility, but every state except North Dakota has some sort of mechanism to keep voting rolls clean.
“Some states are much more aggressive in how they purge people,” he said. “Our state is not aggressive in how they purge people. A lot of things have to line up for them to want to purge you.”
Voters can confirm their eligibility by returning the address confirmation card to the State Election Board or by visiting elections.ok.gov.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.