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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

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For Immediate Release: February 17, 2009

Sen. Don Barrington
Senator Don Barrington

Measure Would Make Voting Easier for Returning Soldiers

Military personnel returning from overseas service would have an easier time voting under legislation approved unanimously Monday by the Senate Rules Committee. SB 718, authored by Sen. Don Barrington, would allow those who return up to three months before an election to still be able to vote even without being registered.

“We should do all we can to make it easier for our military men and women to be able to vote when they return home,” said Barrington, R-Lawton. “Voting is our greatest freedom; and they above all should have the right to participate in the process given it’s what many of them are fighting to give people in Iraq and other countries.”

Barrington said the legislation stemmed from a recent report by the Pew Center on the States that criticized Oklahoma for not providing enough time to vote for our military personnel serving overseas.

Barrington explained that currently, military personnel who are not registered to vote and return home after the voter registration deadline, which is 25 days before an election, are allowed to cast a provisional ballot. His bill extends the grace period for returning military personnel to ninety days. Therefore, any military personnel who return home within ninety days of an election will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, without being registered to vote prior to the deadline.

“When our soldiers return from overseas, the last thing on their mind is registering to vote. Many of them haven’t seen their families and friends anywhere from six months to a year, and maybe more,” said Barrington. “They have so many things to get in order when they return and we don’t want to punish them because they happen to forget to register to vote in time. This will give them a little leeway, and let them still participate in one of their greatest freedoms as an American.”

The bill would apply to any service member and their spouse who has been honorably discharged, is on officially authorized leave, or whose service or overseas employment has been terminated.

SB 718 will next be heard by the full Senate.

For more information contact:
Sen. Barrington's Office: 405-521-5563

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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