Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: June 8, 2015
Senator Holt hails 2015 election reforms
Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law Senate Bill 312,
which consolidates local election dates to either one cycle in the
spring or one cycle in the fall. This follows the successful adoption
of other proposals championed by Sen. David
Holt (R-Oklahoma City) to encourage higher voter turnout after
dramatic recent declines.
“We took some major steps this year in addressing Oklahoma’s
civic participation crisis,” said Holt. “First, we recognized
that we have a problem. Second, we passed some important reforms,
including online registration and local election consolidation.
Having said that, there is much more to do, and I will continue
to push the issue. Improving voter turnout is going to be a long
process, and the responsibility is by no means limited to policymakers.
We all have to take ownership.”
SB 312 also creates a framework that discourages three-step elections
at the local level. When only two elections are required to fill
a position, it saves taxpayer dollars, minimizes voter fatigue,
and reduces the potential reliance on fundraising from special interests.
“We have to get away from the idea that it takes three separate
elections to fill one office,” said Holt. “One day,
I’d like to see that same vision implemented for all elective
offices, but Senate Bill 312 does bring us toward that day at the
Last year, just 29 percent of eligible Oklahomans turned out to
elect the state’s governor. In 2012, Oklahoma notched the
third-worst Presidential turnout in the nation. And in 2014, fewer
Oklahomans were registered to vote than had been in 1988. In response
to these worrying trends, Sen. Holt introduced ten election reform
proposals to address various aspects of the current process that
discourage participation. Two of those bills became it into law
this year, and a third proposal was passed into law by other authors.
SB 312 (Holt/Echols) – Consolidates elections for local elective
office to either one cycle in the spring or one cycle in the fall.
In Oklahoma City in 2014, school board elections occurred in February
and city council elections occurred in March. Such inefficiencies
that discourage turnout will no longer be possible with enactment
of SB 312. Gov. Fallin signed it into law on June 4.
SB 313 (Holt/Banz) – Creates a secure online system to accept
voter registration applications. A third of potential Oklahoma voters
are not registered, but SB 313 provides a modern method to combat
that problem. Signed by Gov. Fallin on April 17.
HB 2181 (Hickman/Quinn) – Lowers the number of signatures
required to recognize a political party (similar to Senator Holt's
SB 318). Signed by Gov. Fallin on May 12.
SB 315 (Holt/Hall) also passed the Senate but was not granted a
hearing in the House. It allows voters to become permanent absentee
voters. Other election reform proposals introduced by Holt, and
eligible again for consideration in 2016, include a top two primary
system, an all-mail election, modernization of absentee procedures,
more opportunities to register, simplification of early voting,
and easier ballot access for presidential candidates and initiatives.
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