Law & Principles

Ray Carter | April 14, 2021

Dead-voter bill passes over Democratic opposition

Ray Carter

Legislation that requires swift removal of dead individuals from voter rolls has passed the Oklahoma Senate over the united opposition of Senate Democrats.

House Bill 1752, by Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader and Sen. Dave Rader, requires county election boards to remove the names of deceased individuals from voter rolls within 30 days of notification.

“What this bill is trying to do is close an open-ended process,” said Rader, R-Tulsa.

Under current law he said the process for removal “could be carried on forever,” although he said some county election boards promptly remove the names of deceased individuals.

Crosswhite Hader made a similar point when she presented the bill on the House floor in March, saying the legislation simply provides a deadline for action that election boards can easily meet.

“Many times these county election boards are actually doing it even faster than 30 days,” said Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont. “I’ve heard even as quickly as a week.”

Even so, the bill faced opposition in both chambers.

In the Senate, HB 1752 passed on a vote of 38-8. All Democrats present voted against the bill’s passage.

That largely continued a trend begun in the Oklahoma House of Representatives where HB 1752 previously passed on a vote of 81-15. All opponents in that chamber were also Democrats, although four House Democrats did join Republicans in support.

When the bill came up in both chambers, Democrats questioned the need for the bill and asked if people could be removed on accident and deprived of the right to vote.

“Is this really such an issue to the degree that it might actually materially change the outcome of an election that we need legislation addressing this because it’s such a huge problem?” asked Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa.

“We think in the scope of elections on a state level, and so we think of big numbers,” Crosswhite Hader responded. “But when you get down to a bond election, we have bond elections sometimes pass by one vote or fail by one vote. If there’s fraud in there, then that’s a huge impact to that district. And so, yes, even one vote makes a difference.”

One Senate Democrat voted against the bill despite noting most election boards are already abiding by its provisions.

“Potentially this already happens,” said Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso. “We’re just putting it in statute.”

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it now goes back to the House for further consideration.

Democrats’ opposition to the legislation drew a sharp rebuke from one of their GOP colleagues in a Facebook post.

“HB1752 would require that all deceased voters would be removed within 30 days of notice to the county election board. And all the Democrats just voted no,” wrote Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. “Because they want to keep dead voters on the voting rolls. Ask yourself why they would want that.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

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.

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