Oklahoma state senator looks to extend early voting

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma state senator has filed a bill that would help more Oklahomans have their voices heard on election day.

According to the U.S. Elections Project, Oklahoma ranks last for voter turnout as a share of the total voting-eligible population. In all, just 55% of the state’s voting-eligible population participated in the November election.

Sen. Adam Pugh, (R-Edmond), has filed Senate Bill 440 to extend in-person early voting from three days to one week.

“Oklahoma has the shortest in-person early voting period in the nation. Three days is an extremely limited amount of time for citizens to cast their early votes, especially when you consider people’s busy schedules and that they have to drive to their county election board, which can be a significant distance for many Oklahomans,” Pugh said. “Allowing one week to cast early in-person ballots will help improve voter participation and turnout to ensure more Oklahomans have their voices heard and are able to participate in our greatest freedom as Americans.”

Under SB 440, voters could cast an early in-person ballot the entire week, Monday through Saturday, preceding any election at their county election board.

Currently, this type of early in-person voting is only available the Thursday through Saturday before an election.

Sen. Pugh argues that Oklahoma’s short in-person voting timeframe can deter citizens from voting.

“I waited four hours to vote on election day, and I’m afraid most people are too busy or aren’t physically able to stand in line that long,” Pugh said. “We need to provide adequate time to vote early just like other states to give Oklahomans more flexibility, which will hopefully entice more citizens to participate in the election process.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, early voting periods in the United States range from four days to 45 days.

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