By Parker Klingenberg

Oklahoma is just one of three states, joining Mississippi and Missouri, requiring absentee ballots to be officially notarized. This is a problem for many people in 2020 where it is difficult to do, well, almost anything without putting your health at risk. Before a major vote in Oklahoma on June 30 for the party primaries and a state question regarding expanding Medicare, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down this requirement in lieu of the pandemic. In response, the Oklahoma legislature immediately passed Senate Bill 210, which waived the notary requirement if a state of emergency had been declared or existed within forty-five days of an election. However, they did not eliminate the barrier completely; instead of notarization, an absentee voter must now include a photocopy of a valid photo ID. When the issue turned to the Federal District Court, Judge John Dowdell of the Northern District of Oklahoma denied a request for temporary injunction requesting a curtailing of absentee voting requirements, specifically pointing to Senate Bill 210 allowing exceptions in a state of emergency, writing that “the state has put in place alternatives that do not necessarily require that voters have direct contact with others in order to cast an absentee ballot,” and that the absentee voting requirements in Oklahoma are “reasonable, nondiscriminatory and legitimate.”

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