State Election Secretary Raises Concerns Over Federal Overhaul Bill

Tuesday, June 15th 2021, 6:48 pm


Oklahoma’s top election official is sounding the alarm as Democrats in Washington consider pushing through sweeping election reform.

State Election Secretary Paul Ziriax said in a letter to Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, if the For the People Act passes Congress, the bill would set election officials like him up for failure and create chaos in our elections.

In the letter, Ziriax laid out his major objections to S.1, the Senate’s version of the election overhaul bill. A nearly identical bill passed the House with every Republican and one Democrat voting against.

“Listen, we're talking about fundamental rights that are being trampled upon in many states, and this is not a Democrat or Republican issue, this literally is an American issue,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday.

Democrats argue major change is needed, pointing to nearly 400 bills filed across the country they claim aim to restrict access to elections.

The wide-ranging 817-page bill does everything from require states allow same day voter registration, mandate two weeks of early voting and make mail in voting permanent. The bill also deals with redistricting, campaign finance and creates a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices.

Ziriax said the proposal is not compatible with Oklahoma law, writing it's "unworkable.” He said if passed, the bill would “negatively impact our ability to administer fair and secure elections in Oklahoma."

“(The bill) makes it virtually impossible to verify the identity of in-person and absentee voters - in direct contravention of Oklahoma's election laws," Ziriax wrote.

“There are major problems with this piece of legislation,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma said. “S1, HR1 literally federalize all elections. It takes away all local election autonomy entirely.”

With zero Republican support, the bill is far from the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural vote in the Senate.

“If Republicans in the Senate want to stand in our way, then we don’t give up, we get rid of the filibuster,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, said.

Democrats face an uphill battle, even if they changed the rules, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV saying he'd vote no.

Read Ziriax’s letter in full below: