Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Notarization Requirement for Absentee Ballots

May 4, 2020

Credit Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

In a 6–3 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Monday Oklahomans can cast their absentee ballots with just a signed affidavit.

The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma and two individual women sued the state election board secretary, asking the court to throw out a requirement absentee ballots be notarized. They said it could hurt voter turnout in elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also argued a 2002 law change made notarization on absentee ballots unnecessary. That law says statements signed and dated under penalty of perjury carry the same force and effect of an affidavit, except for depositions, an oath of office or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary.

"The affidavit required within the absentee voting statutes (26 O.S.Supp.2019, § 14-101, et seq.) does not fall within this list of exceptions," the justices wrote.

Justices John Kane and James Winchester dissented, saying the League of Women Voters sought relief from the wrong branch of government.

In a separate dissent, Justice Dustin Rowe said he agreed with State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax it would be "absurd" to allow unverified absentee ballots but require a valid ID for in-person voting.

Rowe added Oklahomans implemented the state's voter ID requirement by passing a state question in 2010.