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Election Extention Sidelined, Absentee Ballots Will Be "Tight Fit"

A bill that would have increased the amount of days between Oklahoma's primary and run-off elections has been sidelined, according to its Senate author.

Senator Larry Dickerson announced today that he would not continue to push SB 748 because there isn't enough time to make the proposed changes this election year.

The legislation would have moved the filing period for county, state and federal offices from early July to mid-June, and would have set Oklahoma's primary election for two weeks earlier in August. The change was designed to give the State Election Board a little more breathing room between the August primary and the September run-off.

"Even if the bill was passed and signed into law by the Governor this week, the Election Board couldn't implement the changes in time for this year's vote," said Senator Dickerson. "We just weren't able to get the necessary support in such a short time frame."

The Poteau legislator says he is especially concerned about absentee voters who will be pressed to get their ballots in on time. The primary election is on August 27th this year and is followed by the run-off just 21 days later on September 17th.

According to Election Board Secretary Lance Ward, the actual time to prepare and distribute ballots can be eight days or less depending on recounts or other challenges stemming from the primary vote. Ward has expressed concern about being ready for the run-off election.

"It's going to be a tight fit under this year's compressed schedule, especially with absentee ballots coming from our troops overseas, but I'm confident the election board can handle the matter," said Senator Dickerson.

"I wish we could have addressed this situation by moving the election dates, but since that's not possible, we'll just have to make do with what we have. We'll do everything we can to help make the electoral process run as smoothly as possible."