State Lawmakers Axe Multiple Election Reform Bills In Committee

State lawmakers shot down several bills in committee that would have changed the way elections are held in Oklahoma. 

Tuesday, February 15th 2022, 5:23 pm


State lawmakers shot down several bills in committee that would have changed the way elections are held in Oklahoma. 

Lobbyists representing utility companies, municipalities and schools packed the House Ethics and Elections Committee Tuesday morning.  

"I'm trying to give information to voters," Rep. Denise Crosswhite-Hader, R-Piedmont, said.  

She authored five of the election reform measures considered, including HB3233 that would have required candidates to declare a party affiliation when filing to run for office, even in non-partisan races.  

"I see every race as political, we're making a political choice every time, so I don't have a problem with that," Crosswhite-Hader said. 

Another of her bills, HB3234, would have required elections outside of major state-wide election dates to receive 40 percent voter participation to be considered valid. 

"If you use a traditional election day, you do not have to hit as high of a threshold," Crosswhite-Harder said, explaining the measure as a carrot and a stick to cut down on the number of small elections. 

"I don't think that school bonds o school boards or whoever should be punished in a way that's different from what we should do," Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, said. "So, if we're going to require 40 percent, let's require it across the board," Moore said, noting neither he nor Crosswhite-Hader received 40 percent participation in their races. 

Crosswhite-Hader also authored a bill that would not allow school boards to appoint someone to a vacant seat. All three of those measures failed to advance out of committee. However, her HB3232 that she calls a "trigger bill" to react to federal overreach into state elections cleared the committee 5-to-2. 

HB4151 by Rep Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa would have clarified when a person convicted of a felony could once again vote. It failed 4-to-3. 

"This is one, if we can't get bipartisan support on it, God bless us," Goodwin told the committee after the bill failed. 

The committee advanced Rep. Mark Lepak's HB3046 preventing private money from being donated to help conduct elections. Lepak said in 2020 $2.8 million was contributed to county election boards across the state, mostly in what he called swing districts. 

"We don't need that in Oklahoma," he said. 

There are also several election bills coming up in Senate Committee Wednesday. 


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