Young Oklahoma voters can pre-register earlier under bill

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans who aren’t quite old enough to vote will be able to pre-register up to six months before their 18th birthday under a bill that has sailed through the Senate.

The Senate voted unanimously this week for Senate Bill 496 that extends the pre-registration period from 60 days to six months. Voters would still have to turn 18 before Election Day, but the bill’s author, Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, says the idea is to make sure as many young people as possible are ready to cast their first vote.

“This is an effort to get more young people pre-registered to vote and ready for their first election. It’s easier to remember one’s age than that an election is 60 days out,” said Smalley. “Casting one’s first vote is such an exciting right of passage for a young person, and we want to make sure as many Oklahoma youth are ready as possible.”

Oklahoma has had poor voter participation in recent years, but the turnout for the Nov. 6 general election was the highest for a gubernatorial election in 20 years.

Senate Bill 496 now heads to the House for consideration.

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