OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – An investigation into Oklahoma’s absentee voting system has been completed. The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency evaluated the security, accuracy, and efficiency of the state’s processes and presented them to state legislators Thursday.

KFOR asked LOFT’s Executive Director Mike Jackson to rate Oklahoma’s absentee voting system out of 10, and he gave it a 9, saying a few things could be improved.

The evaluation’s stated objectives were to describe the state’s administrative process for distributing, receiving, counting, and verifying mail-in absentee ballots, to evaluate State Election Board and County Election Board compliance with statutory provisions regarding absentee voting, to compare Oklahoma’s absentee voting procedures to other states, and to assess procedural controls in place to verify security and accuracy of absentee ballots.

Jackson provided three findings from the report. The first was that Oklahoma’s absentee voting processes enable election integrity. The second was that local level compliance with effective processes yield a secure and accurate vote count. The final one was that Oklahoma’s uniform election system supports election security and efficiency.

Photo courtesy KFOR, Pic of meeting at the capitol

“Voters can be confident that we have a free, fair, safe, secure voting system in Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma Secretary of the State Election Board Paul Ziriax, pleased with the results.

During the presentation, Jackson shared that 71,000 out of 1.15 million votes cast in the November 2022 general election were absentee. That’s six percent of the total votes. 

Only 1.8 percent of absentee ballots were rejected, compared to 5.0 percent in New Mexico and 6.4 percent in Arkansas.

At the end of his presentation, he recommended lawmakers consider the following policy changes.

One, requiring that any future changes to Oklahoma’s election processes or voting equipment maintain the statewide uniformity of the election system. He emphasized that Oklahoma is one of only three states to have the uniformed system.

Two, requiring post-election audits by the State Election Board. Right now, they’re only recommended.

“As you’re trying to learn about improving processes and making sure that the voters have a secure system, the more audits that are done, the better off and the more secure voters will feel in the system,” Jackson explained to KFOR.

Thirdly, expanding the use of Nursing Home Absentee Boards, and the priveleges that are afforeded those voters, to include residents at assisted living and residential care facilities who have limited mobility.

Lastly, changing the statutory term of “in-person absentee” voting to “early voting” to clarify the types of voting available to the electorate.

Jackson also made recommendations to the State Election Board, suggesting they clear up some voter confusions by indicating the required postage on the mailing envelops for mail in ballots, and giving more detailed instruction on how to notarize absentee ballots.