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Posted: October 26, 2016

Your one stop guide to voting in Oklahoma

State questions explained, links to election boards, and more

Russell Mills

By Russell Mills

TULSA —

As Tulsa's Election Headquarters, KRMG takes the responsibility to help inform voters very seriously.

That's why we've prepared this summary of important information to help sort out any confusion over the large number of state questions on the ballot November 8th.

We've also assembled a number of helpful links to additional resources that will aid voters before they head to the polls.

Click here for sample ballots

 


The State Questions

SQ776 - A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It would enshrine the death penalty in the state constitution. Proponents say it will "protect" the death penalty, which has come under scrutiny after a series of botched executions in the state. Opponents argue it overrides judicial authority to rule on the constitutional issues involved. They point out that if the measure failures, the death penalty will remain on the books in Oklahoma.

SQ777 - The "right to farm" proposal was also referred by the legislature, and it would also amend the state constitution. It would require courts to rule on any restrictions on agricultural practices in the state that weren't already on the books before Dec. 31, 2014, subjecting them to "strict scrutiny." Proponents believe the measure would protect farmers and ranchers from overregulation. Opponents argue that the right to farm is already protected in Oklahoma, and that requiring any regulation of the industry to pass the test of protecting a "compelling state interest" would effectively make it impossible to protect water quality, domestic animals, and the ability of small farms or ranches to compete against large, industrial farming and ranching enterprises.

SQ 779 - A voter-initiated constitutional amendment, it would institute a one-penny, statewide sales tax dedicated to education. It also mandates a $5,000 raise for teachers and requires annual review of how the funds are spent. Proponents say education funding has fallen off for years, and the state is losing teachers because of low pay. They claim the legislature has failed its responsibility to fund education properly, and it's up to taxpayers to fill the gap. Opponents argue that the sales tax is regressive, and will have a negative impact primarily on low- and middle-income Oklahomans. Many also believe schools overspend on administration, athletics, and other expenses not directly related to classroom instruction.

SQ 780 - A voter-initiated state statute that would reclassify some nonviolent drug and property crimes as misdemeanors, thereby reducing the prison population. It is related to SQ 781, which would pass the money saved back to counties for rehabilitation, counseling, and job training. Proponents say it would save money and turn people away from crime and substance abuse, making them productive members of society. Opponents say the legislature has already instituted some criminal justice reform measures. They also worry that reducing some crimes to misdemeanors would make it harder for prosecutors to use a potential felony charge to compel witnesses to take plea deals, and/or testify against other defendants.

SQ 781 - A voter-initiated state statute which would mandate that any money saved by SQ780 would be returned to the counties to be spent on rehabilitating criminals and drug addicts. This measure would only go into effect if SQ780 passes. Proponents believe rehabilitation and counseling would turn potential career criminals into productive citizens. Opponents argue that it's unclear how much money, if any, would actually be saved and that there's not enough specificity in how the funds would be allocated.

SQ 790 - A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, which would remove the language banning the use of public money for religious purposes (Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma State Constitution). Specifically, this measure would allow a 10 Commandments monument to return to the grounds of the state capitol. Proponents say the "Establishment Clause" in the U.S. Constitution which bans governmental endorsement of any religion would still stand. Opponents argue that passage would threaten some protections already enjoyed by churches and other religious organizations.

SQ 792 - Another constitutional amendment referred by the legislature, it would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine, seven days a week. Retail liquor stores would also be allowed to sell products other than alcoholic beverages, in limited amounts. Proponents say the state's liquor laws are outdated and harm business in Oklahoma because people go out of state to make purchases of liquor, wine and beer. Opponents say the law would benefit large, out-of-state corporations at the expense of small, locally-owned companies.


Oklahoma Voting FAQs

WHAT ARE THE PARTIES WHICH WILL APPEAR ON THE OKLAHOMA BALLOT?

Oklahoma recognizes three political parties: Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican. There are presidential and down-ballot candidates for office representing all three parties, as well as some independents. Local races in some cities (Tulsa, for example) are non-partisan, as are most judicial races. You can vote a straight ticket for any of the three recognized parties.

IS WRITE-IN VOTING LEGAL IN OKLAHOMA?

Writing in a name on a ballot is not valid in Oklahoma. However, any other votes on the ballot that are correctly marked will still be valid, and will be counted.

WHAT PREVENTS HACKING OF VOTING MACHINES?

Voting machines in Oklahoma are not networked to one another, nor to the election board, nor the Internet. The machines are monitored at all times during voting, making tampering extremely difficult. Oklahoma replaced all of its voting machines in 2012.

CAN I REGISTER TO VOTE ONLINE?

The Oklahoma legislature passed a law in 2015 authorizing the State Election Board to implement an online voting registration system for all citizens with a valid state-issued ID or driver's license. That system is still in development; it is hoped it will be available prior to the 2018 election cycle.

CAN I VOTE EARLY?

Early voting is available at the county election boards from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday and Friday before all elections. It is also available from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the Saturday before election day during state and federal elections. Tulsa County also offers early voting during those same hours at Hardesty Library, 8316 E. 93rd Street (just southeast of 91st and Memorial). Those locations are NOT available for voting on election day; all in-person ballots must be cast at your local precinct.

HOW DOES ABSENTEE VOTING WORK?

Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot, and no explanation is required. Use the link below to find a form and request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be delivered in person or received by mail by 7:00 p.m. on election day. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday prior to election day.

WILL I NEED A VALID ID TO VOTE?

Oklahoma law requires a voter to present valid identification in order to vote. A state-issued photo ID or driver's license, a military ID card, a tribal ID card, or a U.S. passport are all considered valid forms of ID, as long as they have not expired. You can also use the voter registration card issued to you by your county election board. If you do not have a valid ID, you can still fill out a provisional ballot. You will be required to sign an affidavit affirming your identity and explaining why your vote should be counted. Provisional ballots are sealed and are not put through the voting machines. The county election board will investigate all provisional ballots and approve or reject them based on their ability to confirm the information contained in the affidavit.


Voter Resources

A one-stop tool for obtaining all the information on your local precinct, including your city ward (if applicable), State House and Senate Districts, and US House and Senate Districts

Information on absentee ballots, including a link to request one online

Full ballot titles of State Questions

Oklahoma Democratic Party website

Oklahoma Libertarian Party website

Oklahoma Republican Party website


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