Oklahoma Republicans Reinstate Absentee Ballot Notarization Requirement

May 7, 2020

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On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized.

Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill reinstating it.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 210 earlier in the day on a party-line vote. It enshrines the notarization requirement in state law.

The supreme court ruled a declaration under penalty of perjury is sufficient for absentee ballots because they are not among the documents Oklahoma statutes say must be notarized.

"Make no mistake. The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday legislated from the bench. There is absolutely — unequivocal, that’s what they did," said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, SB210's Senate author.

SB210 lets voters attach a photocopy of their state ID or voter registration card to an absentee ballot in place of a notary’s seal, but only during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City) said that provision assumes people have a printer at home. She said a State Department of Education survey found roughly one in three students doesn't even have a computer at home.

"That’s not consistent and that’s not even or fair. For many, it would involve cost, it would involve risk and exposing themselves to other individuals by having to go to a print shop or a copy shop or an office store," Kirt said.

Several Republicans said the bill was requested by State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, who said it would be "absurd" not to require the verification for absentee ballots.

Oklahoma is one of three states that require a notarized absentee ballot. The other two are Missouri and Mississippi.