Oklahoma Senate passes bills designed to improve state election accuracy, efficiency

Oklahoma Politics
In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail. That's according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds 54% of voters say they will vote before polls open on Nov. 3. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds 54% of voters say they will vote before polls open on Nov. 3. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two bills created to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state elections were passed by the Oklahoma State Senate.

Senate Bills 710 and 712, written by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, passed in the State Senate on Thursday and now head to the State House of Representatives.

SB 710 authorizes the Secretary of the State Election Board to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which a State Senate news release describes as “a multi-state partnership that uses data-matching tools to enhance the accuracy of voter registration lists.”

States that are ERIC members can securely share information from voter registration systems, motor vehicle databases, death records and postal records. This helps states identify voters who have moved, passed away or changed their name, according to the news release.

The State Election Board requested both measures.

SB 710 also allows the State Election Board to share data with ERIC, send Oklahoma’s voter registration notifications to eligible citizens not yet registered and notify voters who need to update their address for voter registration purposes.

Thirty states, including Texas, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico, are ERIC members.

“Oklahoma already has one of the best election systems in the nation, but these measures will further strengthen and modernize that system,” Jech said. “It’s important that we maintain an accurate voter database and encourage eligible voters to participate in our election process. Joining ERIC would benefit all Oklahoma voters by ensuring our elections are safe, accurate, and everyone who wishes to participate is able.”

SB 712, if made law, will authorize the State Election Board to buy and use electronic pollbooks to check-in voters at the polls. Voters would be verified and signed in electronically, “creating a more efficient process,” the news release states.

“Using electronic polls reduces the risk that a voter is issued the wrong ballot or signs the wrong line on the precinct registry, not to mention creates an efficiency for all voters at the polls,” Jech said. “By utilizing this technology, voters who try to check-in at the wrong polling place can be more efficiently directed to their correct polling place, reducing confusion, frustration and the need for provisional ballots.”

At least 36 states already use electronic pollbooks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, is the author of the bill in the State House of Representatives.

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