State Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, announced the release of five bills targeted at improving Oklahoma’s election laws. Fugate refiled HB 1902, carryover legislation he proposed in the 58th Legislature that will allow absentee voters to cast provisional ballots to correct absentee ballot errors. Today, legally cast votes are discarded when a voter makes a clerical error on their absentee ballot. Something as simple as failing to include both envelopes will cause that ballot to be rejected. Fugate’s bill would allow voters to cast a provisional ballot on election day that would be counted only if their absentee ballot is rejected. Said Fugate, “All voters deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Free and fair elections must include all legally cast votes.”
HB 1916 and HB 1917 are also carryover legislation and address issues where Oklahoma voters are not allowed to elect their own representatives. Although there were 125 open legislative seats in 2022, just 38 seats (30%) appeared on the general election ballot. HB 1916 would require single-party races to advance the top two candidates from the primary to the general election. HB 1917 would have unopposed candidates stand for retention just like statewide judicial officers. “Voters should always decide who represents them. These two bills would restore power to the people,” said Fugate.
Fugate also filed HB 1918, new legislation that would require Oklahoma’s political parties to pay for the cost of closed primary elections. Said Fugate, “Closed primaries are party processes, not people processes. Party processes should be paid for by political parties – not by the taxpayers.”
Finally, Fugate has filed a HJR 1022 to create a state question where voters can decide whether to remove party affiliation from future ballots. Fugate filed this legislation in response to a request from a Libertarian constituent in his district.