Law & Principles
Ray Carter | May 3, 2022
Amid publicity, Moore vote on election integrity shifts
State Rep. Anthony Moore recently voted for legislation that would require a voter-fraud investigation when 10 or more people appear to be voting from one house—despite having previously voted against an almost identical bill that he decried as a waste of prosecutors’ time and “unconstitutional.”
The apparent shift follows recent publicity in Moore’s district that focused on his voting record.
In March, the House Elections and Ethics Committee heard House Bill 2974, which would require the State Election Board to review voter-registration records and, if more than 10 registered voters “share a single residential address,” the bill required the board to notify the secretary of that county’s election board, who would then be required to “immediately notify the district attorney for that county.”
Under HB 2974, the district attorney would then be required to “investigate any possible criminal violation of the law related to the voter registration.”
The bill did not apply to nursing homes, veterans’ centers, medical facilities, multiunit housing, installations of the Armed Forces of the United States, or “other locations authorized in writing by the Secretary of the State Election Board.”
HB 2974 passed the House Elections and Ethics Committee on March 1 on a 4-3 vote. Moore was the only Republican to oppose the bill’s passage.
When the bill came before the full Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 8, Moore again joined Democrats in opposition and also criticized the bill on the House floor. In public comments on the House floor, Moore said the bill would waste district attorneys’ time, saying it would “create more hurdles for them, more things to get done.”
Supporters said some suspicious incidents have been identified where multiple people are registered at one home address. State Rep. Jim Olsen, a Roland Republican who authored HB 2974, said he had received “information about one address with 27 voters registered there.”
State Rep. Gary Mize, R-Guthrie, said there is a “location in my district where this might actually apply” and that the issue had arisen during the last election cycle, but that there “was really no path to even check it out or look at it.”
Following the House floor vote, the organization People for Opportunity highlighted Moore’s vote and comments in a mailer sent to his district. The mailer noted that Moore voted against HB 2974 even as 66 House Republicans voted in favor of the bill and called the bill a “common-sense way to clean up the voter list and stop fraud.” The mailer included quotes from Moore’s comments criticizing HB 2974 on the House floor.
Notably, the House lawmakers who voted in favor of HB 2974 included several lawmakers who were previously prosecutors or law-enforcement officials.
Moore responded with an April 14 Facebook post that also included a copy of a mail piece Moore sent to constituents about the election-integrity issue. Moore’s mailer described criticism of his vote on HB 2974 as “LIES funded by DARK MONEY interest groups.”
However, in both the mailer and in his April 14 Facebook post, Moore conceded that those reports are accurate and that he did oppose HB 2974.
The mailer included a statement from Moore declaring, “The bill I opposed was unconstitutional. You don’t fix an old, broken-down vehicle with defective parts, or it won’t work very long!”
In his Facebook post, Moore stated, “I have and always will be 100% committed to election integrity, but not by unconstitutional and unfunded mandates that grow government.”
At no point in his comments on the House floor during consideration of HB 2974 did Moore claim the bill was unconstitutional
At the same time, Moore has voted in favor of another bill that is substantially identical to HB 2974.
Existing state law already requires the secretary of the county election board to notify the local district attorney and Secretary of the State Election Board whenever “more than ten absentee ballots for a single election are requested to be mailed to a single mailing address.”
As passed by the House Elections and Ethics Committee, Senate Bill 1637 would require that the state attorney general be notified, rather than the local district attorney, with the attorney general allowed to “investigate any possible criminal violation of the law related to the absentee ballot requests.”
If the attorney general declined to investigate, SB 1637 stated that the district attorney “shall then investigate any possible criminal violation of the law related to the absentee ballot requests.”
As with HB 2974, the provisions of SB 1637 did not apply to absentee ballots sent to nursing homes, veterans’ centers, medical facilities, multiunit housing, and military installations.
SB 1637 passed the House Elections and Ethics Committee on April 5 on a 4-2 vote that broke along party lines. Moore voted with Republicans in that instance. (SB 1637 did not receive a hearing on the House floor.)
The main difference between HB 2974 and SB 1637 was that one bill required an investigation when 10 or more people are registered at one address, while the other bill required an investigation when 10 or more absentee ballots are sent to voters registered at one address.
Moore’s Facebook post decrying HB 2974 as “unconstitutional” came after Moore voted in favor SB 1637.
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.