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Local News

April 6, 2009

Holland pleased with SB 718

Bill to protect returning military voting rights

OKLAHOMA CITY – The last thing a returning military serviceman or woman might be thinking about when they come home is rushing to their local election board office to make sure they can vote.

Senate Bill 718 will change the law, extending the voter registration deadline so military servicemen and women’s votes will still count when they return from overseas deployment.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a Senate bill sponsored by state Rep. Corey Holland, R-Marlow, this week that would protect the voting rights of military personnel by authorizing that they be allowed a provisional ballot.

Even though the bill was approved in both the House and Senate, Holland had amended it to remove some language and it returns to the Senate for a final approval. Holland said it must pass by both sides in the exact language in order for it to be put in front of Gov. Brad Henry. He doesn’t see any issues that will halt the final approval.

“The amendment author was pleased with that amendment,” he said Friday.

Holland said the original bill was authored by Sen. Don Barrington.

“He and I’ve been working on it together,” Holland said. He said believes the idea actually came from the state election board after a research conducted revealed Oklahoma is listed as one of the states with the narrowest window (timeline) for troops returning home to get to vote.

“That’s what initiated it. The state election board wanted to broaden it that so they (military) could get to vote.”

“No one deserves the right to vote more than those men and women who risk their lives in service to their country,” Holland said. “Yet these military men and women run into too many problems trying to vote when they return home from service. This legislation would help protect the voting rights of these military personnel. By extending the grace period from 25 days to 90 days this will allow them a better opportunity to exercise their right to vote by provisional ballot.”

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