State Senator Connie Johnson said she was elated by the tremendous turnout of voters seeking to cast early ballots this year, but wants to make it even more convenient for those taking advantage of that option. Because participation was so great, many voters had to endure extraordinarily long lines to vote. Johnson said thats why she is filing legislation to expand early voting hours during general elections.
Seeing that many people wanting to exercise their right to vote, willing to stand in line for hours was just phenomenal, said Johnson, D-Oklahoma City. But some individuals may have given up out of frustration. We need to make it easier for people to vote, and I believe we can do that by increasing the hours for early voting in general elections.
Currently, voters can cast early ballots at their county election boards from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Friday and Monday before the general election, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on that Saturday. Johnson said her legislation will expand voting hours for all three days. She said the proposed legislation was actually requested by one of her constituentsformer State Senator Angela Monson, who served in Johnsons district until being term-limited in 2005. She carried legislation in 2002 to replace early voting on Thursday with a half-day on Saturday to allow for early voting on the weekend before an election.
I voted early and there was only about an hour wait, but I know at other locations people had to stand in line for much longer, said Monson. With more people taking advantage of this option, I think it makes sense to consider expanding the hours.
Johnsons bill will be considered when the 2009 legislative session begins in February.