State Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City, released the following statement after the passage of House Bill 2974 and House Bill 2976 in the Senate on Tuesday.
“I voted no on two pieces of legislation that I feel would result in voter suppression in our state.
“The first, House Bill 2974, would require that any address with 10 or more registered voters on record be sent to the district attorney and law enforcement for further investigation. This unfairly targets large households and families who share a home, discouraging eligible citizens from registering to vote in fear of an inquiry.
“HB 2976 is a bit more insidious in that it requires cooperation between the federal, district and municipal court systems to help denote felons on the voter roll. This bill presents two problems. First, the continued labeling of individuals as felons who have completed their debt to society and are eligible to vote. Second, it promotes the thought that those who have been convicted and completed their sentence have lost the right to vote indefinitely.
“I’ve worked with the Oklahoma Prison Ministry in assisting individuals who have fulfilled their debt to society to have their voting privileges restored. Recently, I was the guest speaker at the Core Civic Oklahoma City Transitional Center, and the point of my talk was the value of a second chance. Unfortunately, this measure would perpetuate the fact that many individuals who’ve satisfied their debt to society do not know that they have regained their constitutional right to vote.
“A better option would be to put into statute that the State Election Board should conduct a training for those convicted of a felony to learn about their right to register and vote.
“These pieces of legislation are part of the psychological warfare against voting, particularly among our most vulnerable electorate members. Oklahoma is among the worse states for voter participation and/or voter registration in reference to our total population. We must pass bills that encourage voter participation and cease voter suppression.”