Voting Change Can Help Vote in Changes
Last week the Oklahoma Election Board began allowing voters to update basic voter registration information online, a move long overdue in a state that consistently ranks among the bottom ten in the nation for voter turnout.
So far this new system only allows voters to change basic information such as party affiliation and address. While this may be no magic bullet, it is a system that has long been implemented in at least 37 other states and could represent an increase in accessibility that Oklahoma needs to see in order to get voters to the polls.
And voters are needed at the polls now more than ever.
While all eyes may be fixed on the race for governor and the polar opposites represented in Democrat Drew Edmondson and Republican Kevin Stitt, the significance of even more localized elections should not be overlooked.
Nearly every statewide office and congressional seat will be up for vote in November, including the seats of 17 state senators and 72 House members. November has a potential to be a reckoning for incumbents who have failed to deliver, but only if the voters most impacted cast their ballots.
Oklahoma continues to face a slow recovery from a staggering budget deficit that has seen the gutting of state funding for vital safety net and welfare programs ranging from mental health and substance abuse to child welfare.
Our state was announced as the prison capital of the world in June, with more Oklahomans in prison than any other state while there look to be no substantive legislative reforms for our corrections system in sight.
And a battle still is being waged to adequately fund classrooms across the state and ensure that Oklahoma teachers are paid a competitive wage.
While the June primaries and August runoffs may have seen the ousting of six of the 10 Republican candidates on ballot who had voted against raising taxes for a teacher pay raise, the election commission reported that only 43 percent of the state as a whole turned out to vote in June and even less in August.
These are issues that impact every Oklahoman both young and old, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent.
Regardless of party affiliation, younger voters are a demographic that is typically missing at the polls and a political force vital to fueling the reforms needed within the state’s politics.
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 12, less than a month away. The Volunteer and Service Learning Office on campus can help students with the registration process as well as in submitting absentee ballots.
And for those who are registered but may need to change their information, take advantage of the new ability to make adjustments to their voter information online at www.elections.ok.gov.
Remember, November provides the opportunity to vote change not only in the governor’s office but across the entire state as well.