Efforts have been made in the legislature in recent years to improve access and make voting easier for Oklahomans. The Senate passed another bill this week that will allow employees more flexibility in voting. Senate Bill 58, by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, will allow employees who live two or more hours from their polling place to take leave to vote on the Thursday or Friday before an election when in-person absentee voting is allowed by law.
“Currently, employees are only allowed to take time off on Election Day but many times individuals can’t get away from work for one reason or another including those in rural areas that live a long ways from their polling places. This would allow them two additional days to choose from, making it easier for them to cast their vote,” said Pemberton, R-Muskogee. “Voting is one of our greatest rights as Americans and we need to give our citizens ample opportunities to exercise that right.”
The measure also prohibits employers from penalizing their employees for taking time off to vote provided the individual provides proof of their vote. Employees will need to notify their employers of their intent to vote at least one day in advance. The employer will determine the day and time the individual is released to vote.
SB 58 will next be considered in the House.