Senator Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City has introduced legislation to help ensure that overseas absentee ballots from members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families are counted in Oklahoma elections.
“The least we can do for our fighting men and women, who are risking their lives for our freedom, is to ensure that their votes are counted,” stated Coffee, who serves as the Senate Republican Floor Leader.
“Currently, Oklahoma’s election law offers too little flexibility for counting military ballots and too little time for absentee ballots to be sent overseas, filled out, and returned. Senate Bill 942 attempts to make it easier for military personnel and their families stationed overseas to have their votes counted in Oklahoma elections,” he said.
Coffee’s bill would allow a six day grace period for overseas absentee ballots to be received and counted by an election board. The grace period would run until 5:00 p.m. on the Monday following a Presidential primary, a primary election, a runoff, and a general election. Currently, Oklahoma election law allows a grace period for overseas absentee ballots only in primary runoffs for federal elections.
Coffee’s bill also moves up the dates for the candidate filing period and primary elections to accommodate recommendations by the U.S. military that states allow 45 days from the time an overseas absentee ballot is mailed until the time it must be received to be counted.
Under Coffee’s bill, the three day candidate filing period would begin on the last Thursday in March and run through the following Saturday. Currently, the candidate filing period is in June, and runs on a Monday through Wednesday schedule.
Primary elections would be held on the second Tuesday in June of each even-numbered year. Currently, primaries are held on the last Tuesday in July.
“The bottom line is that our state should go the extra mile to make sure the votes of our military personnel are counted. I am very optimistic that in this time of war we will find broad, bipartisan support for this proposal,” Coffee said.