State Sen. Randy Bass announced he has filed a trio of bills designed to make the voting process easier for more Oklahomans while enabling more citizens to volunteer at voting precincts.
Bass said Senate Bill 278 would expand the period for in-person absentee voting in counties with populations of at least 50,000 during presidential elections. Currently, voters can cast early ballots on the Friday, Saturday and Monday before the election at their county election board. Bass said his bill would expand in-person absentee voting to seven days.
“The idea of early voting is to make it more convenient for voters so more of our citizens will participate in the process,” said Bass, D-Lawton. “I had a good hour and a half standing in line in Comanche County during November’s presidential election. People were getting frustrated and some left. We can improve situations like that with a longer early voting period.”
Bass said expanding the number of early voting days would carry an additional cost of several thousand dollars per day per county, with the amount depending on the size of the county. He said by limiting the additional days to only the top five populated counties, it would be a more affordable option to enact.
He’s also filed Senate Bill 276, which would allow a representative of an incapacitated voter to apply for an absentee ballot in person.
“Again, the idea is to make it easier to assist those with special needs so they can more easily exercise their right to vote,” Bass said.
His final piece of legislation, Senate Bill 277, would widen the pool of individuals who can work as judges, clerks, counters and other precinct positions required for elections. Under current state law, judges, clerks and counters are paid for each election, and precinct officials assigned to work ten miles or more away from their home are allowed mileage reimbursement.
“It’s not much, but the problem is state law doesn’t allow for citizens who would like to simply volunteer their time to do so without compensation. Some people may be concerned about whether the payments could impact their pensions or other benefits,” Bass said. “If they are okay with volunteering to help with elections without any compensation, I think we should be able to allow that.”