Courtesy Photo/ The Bison
Voter registration for OK primaries ended Feb. 7. Registration for the national election will remain open until June 5.
Assistant News Editor
Although more than six months remain before the Nov. 3 general election, the electoral process has already begun, and so have efforts to increase voter engagement.
For Oklahoma residents, the deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma’s presidential primary was Feb. 7. The deadline to register in many of Oklahoma’s other primary elections is June 5.
OBU’s Student Government Association has been helping students to register to vote at a table in the Geiger Center this past week.
“We want people to know that their voices are very important when it comes to voting. It’s the basis of the democracy that we live in and we need to make sure that we are exercising the right that we’ve been given,” Stu- dent Government Association president Clayton Myers said.
Oklahoma will hold its presidential primary election on Mar. 3, a date known as Super Tuesday, with several other states set to vote on the same day.
Laws regarding voter registration vary by state.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board website, in Oklahoma, “you can register to vote if you are a citizen of the United States, a resident of the State of Oklahoma, and at least 18 years old or meet the age requirement to pre-register.”
Myers expressed optimism regarding the Student Government Association’s efforts.
“I feel like it went very well. People asked good questions when filling out the applications and I think that we had a good number come and register,” Myers said.
Those who are at least 17 1⁄2 years old may pre-register in Oklahoma, if they meet the other requirements.
Persons deemed incapacitated by a court are not permitted to vote in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma law permits persons convicted of felonies to vote after they have served their sentence or period of probation.
Rules regarding voting in party primary elections also vary by state and party. Oklahoma has a system of closed primary elections in most cases.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board website, “Only voters who are registered members of a recognized political party may vote for the party’s candidates in primary and runoff primary elections.”
“However,” according to the Election Board website, “registered Independent voters may be eligible to vote in party’s primaries and runoff primaries if authorized by the party. The Democratic Party has authorized Independent voters to vote in their primary and runoff elections in 2020 and 2021.”
Myers hopes to engage students in more than national presidential elections.
“We hope that students understand this is more than just voting once every four years, but being active in all the elections that they possibly can, including the state and local elections,” Myers said.
SGA’s efforts succeeded in registering students to vote.
“I’m not sure of the exact number that registered, but we started with 50 envelopes for people to mail their forms in and ended with none,” Myers said.
“That’s not even including the students who had the ability to register online in their state.”
Turnout among young voters increased for the 2018 midterm elections.
According to the United States Census Bureau web- site, “Among 18- to 29-year- olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group — a 79 percent jump.”
Myers proposed that political engagement is important for everyone.
“I think it’s important for all people to be politically active. We may not agree on every piece of policy, but civil discourse is what keeps this country moving forward,” Myers said.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website, to register in Oklahoma, “you must fill out a voter registration application form. Voter registration applications are available at your County Election Board, post offices, tag agencies, libraries and many other public locations.”