Oklahoma lawmakers push back against federal election reform bill

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Both the Oklahoma State Senate and the State House of Representatives passed resolutions this week pushing back against a federal election reform bill that claims to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box and reduce the influence of “big money” in politics.

State Republicans say HR-1, or the For the People Act, gives lawmakers in Washington, D.C. too much power in state-run elections. Democrats are calling the state’s moves political pandering in response to the November Presidential election.

“This is a complete federal take-over of how we run our elections,” said Senator Greg Treat of Oklahoma City.

This week resolutions passed floors of both the State Senate and House to push back against HR-1, a federal bill that would change certain election laws. State Republicans are saying things like voter registration and district criteria should be left up to the state.

“The U.S. Constitution is clear that state legislatures are tasked with the authority to decide how elections are decided,” said Senate Pro Tempore Treat.

“HR-1 Is seeking to take over those state responsibilities, so, it’s important for us to be resolved in our position,” said Rep. Jay Steagall of Yukon

But Senate Democrats disagree, saying HR-1 would increase access for voters in Oklahoma, a state with one of the lowest voter turnout percentages.

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)

“HR-1 ensures us of some sense of safety. This is a bunch of BS,” said Sen. George Young of Oklahoma City.

Both state Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate say Oklahoma runs very safe elections. Republicans say that’s why they don’t need changes from Washington, D.C. But there are multiple bills currently going thru the state legislature that would change state election laws. Republicans maintain election law changes should be up to the states.

“We have really solid election processes here in the state of Oklahoma, but there is always room for improvement. So, the bills that we are seeing come through the House and the Senate are really just to tighten those processes up,” said Steagall.

State Republicans maintain election law changes should be up to the states, but House Democrats say these types of resolutions are all for show.

“I think that a lot of politicians here like to file this legislation so that they can go back to their district when it’s time for re-election and say I was standing up for election integrity.”

Currently HR-1 has passed the U.S. House and is awaiting a vote by the U.S. Senate. That’s why Treat says now was the time to act so that members of the U.S. Senate who may be wavering know that they think the bill is unacceptable.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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