A great many Oklahomans could see themselves purged from the state voter rolls in a few years if they don’t do one of two things: either confirm their addresses or vote by the 2022 general election.
Oklahoma State Election Board has mailed more than 181,000 address confirmations to Oklahomans in an effort to confirm voting eligibility. The letters were sent to people who haven’t voted since the 2016 general election, or hold duplicate registrations or no longer have an Oklahoma driver license.
As of last week, 134,000 registered voters had yet to respond.
There are multiple reasons why someone hasn’t voted. They could have died or moved out of state. They could have just not voted.
Voters who do not respond to the letters by Saturday will be declared inactive. They’ll still be eligible to vote through the 2022 general election. However, if no voter activity occurs by then, they’ll be removed from the voter rolls. After that, they will have to go through the registration process again.
Purging voter rolls can sometimes be a controversial subject. Some say it limits people’s right to vote.
Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax sees it differently.
“As the state election board secretary, I want every eligible person to be registered to vote, and I want every registered voter to vote,” he said. “However, I also have a legal responsibility to maintain clean voter rolls to protect against those who would attempt to harm our democracy by using outdated voter lists to tamper with our elections.”
Oklahoma’s system of purging voter rolls certainly is not draconian. No one gets dropped for missing one election.
We hope people who are in jeopardy of being purged will take the steps necessary to remain eligible to vote.
Too many people in Oklahoma — and across the United States — don’t realize how lucky we all have it to be able to vote in peaceful elections. That’s not the case in many parts of the world.
If you are at risk, do what you must to stay on the rolls.