State Election Board Preparing to Purge 134,000 from Voter Rolls

Jul 25, 2019

Credit File photo

More than 134,000 Oklahoma voters risk becoming inactive if they don’t confirm their address by this weekend.

Every other year, Oklahoma removes thousands of voters for being inactive. In April, the state election board purged about 88,000 people from the rolls who, in 2015, hadn’t responded to or had an address confirmation mailer returned.

The state sends out the mailers to anyone who obtained an ID in another state, possibly registered twice, or who hasn’t voted or updated their registration in four years.

So-called "use it or lose it" laws have been scrutinized across the country by civil rights advocates for discriminating against minority and low-income voters.

"The law is very clear about what the election board is required to do. The law has been in place for a very long time, 25 years, and everyone is treated the same regardless of your political party or any other qualification," said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax.

A review by Oklahoma Watch of the voters purged in 2017 shows that Democrats were disproportionately affected.

"I have never worked an election where I haven’t gotten a call from someone who, in Oklahoma, shows up to vote only to find out they can’t because they’ve been purged from the rolls," said ACLU Oklahoma's Nicole McAfee.

McAfee said since Oklahoma doesn’t have same day registration laws, on election day, there’s nothing that removed voters can do if they find out when they come to the polls.