State Law Allows Inactive Voters To Be Deleted From Database

Sunday, February 28th 2016, 6:57 pm
By: News 9

The primary election is Tuesday and if you’re not registered to vote, you will not be participating.

However, one Oklahoma voter who thought he was registered found out the hard way that he's not.

“I have a right to vote and I have a right not to vote,” said business owner Loren Koertner.

Koertner admits he doesn't vote in every general election. Now that he's ready to exercise that right, though, he can't.

“You don't know anything about the law when you register to vote, I had no idea I was deleted from the rolls,” he said.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said by law, election agencies have to update their files every two years.

“It's a mailing or a post card that is sent to your address that's on file with the election board, it just confirms you still reside at the address we show,” Ziriax said.

If the mailer comes back undeliverable or if it's not returned by the voter then by law, those voters become “inactive.”

“Inactive does not delete you from the system, it simply means instead of being listed as an active voter, you're inactive and any person that remains an inactive voter for two consecutive general election cycles without voting or without making some update to his or her voter registration by law those persons are automatically deleted,” Ziriax said.

According to the state Election Board, Koertner returned his confirmation notice in 2009, but not in 2011. Koertner claims he didn’t receive the 2011 notice. Even so, the board said he still would have needed to vote in the past four years in any election to stay active.

“We're certainly very sympathetic to that but we're required to follow the law in terms of making sure that those address confirmation mailings were sent out,” Ziriax said.

As for Koertner, he said he did vote in 2008, but is unable to prove it because those files are only kept for two years. He still has his voter ID card, issued in 2008.

“I asked to be reinstated umpteen times,” Koertner said. “I'm still going to go in there to try to vote. My only option is I’ll wait until Tuesday and if they don't, I’m going to have to file a lawsuit in district court.”

If you’re not registered, it's too late to vote this Tuesday.

The next deadline to register is June 3.

If you haven't voted in a while or you're just unsure if you are registered, you can check you status through an online voter tool at the Oklahoma State Board of Elections website.