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Online voter registration launches in Oklahoma

Xcaret Nuñez

Oklahomans can nowregister to vote online, after waiting eight years for the program to launch.

The program requires an applicant's data to be cross-matched with state identification from the Department of Public Safety. It was this requirement that caused the years-long delay, as the department’s driver’s license system had longbeen in disarray.

In 2015, the state legislature passed a bill by then-Senator David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) that authorized the election board to create the online registration system. Holt wrote in astatement he believedSenate Bill 313 would allow for a more secure way to register to vote.

Holt hoped this would encourage young Oklahomans to become registered to vote.

Holt, who is now mayor of Oklahoma City,told theTulsa World that year he hoped the system would launch prior to the 2016 presidential election.

However, it would take until September 2018 for phase one of the program to roll out, which allowed digital updates to a voter’s party affiliation and address.

The Department of Public Safety’s technical issues would continue, as legislation to place a March 2021 deadline for online registration stalled during the 2020 legislative session. Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City) had filed that bill.

KirttoldOklahoma Watch last year that she planned to file a similar bill should the delay continue

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax wrote in apress release, this system is completely safe.

“Oklahoma’s new Online Voter Registration System allows citizens to securely complete and submit a Voter Registration Application electronically from a desktop or mobile device,” Ziriax wrote. “Best of all, the system has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it is safe and secure.”

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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