May 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Oklahoma extends early voting as other GOP-led states curb access

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed legislation this week that extends early voting in the state by a day and changes the timeline for voters to request absentee ballots to ensure they are received in time to be counted, the Oklahoman reports.

Why it matters: The measure comes as other Republican-led states, including Georgia and Florida, pass laws restricting voting access.

Yes, but: "Oklahoma has long stood out as a place with restrictive voting laws," AP reports, noting the state also has a voter ID law and requires that mail-in ballots be notarized.

  • Even with the extra day to cast in-person absentee ballots before a presidential election, Oklahoma’s four days of early voting are "among the fewest in the nation," according to AP.
  • The average early voting period across the U.S. is 19 days, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • The new legislation also adds an additional hour of early voting on Saturdays before federal and state elections, per the Oklahoman.

The big picture: Unlike battleground states including Florida and Georgia, Republicans have a a firm grip on Oklahoma.

  • “Oklahoma is very red, and I don’t think this change disproportionately affects either party,” Chad Alexander, a GOP strategist and former chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party, told AP.
  • Some also said the move may help more people get to the polls in a state that saw the lowest voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election, per

Oklahoma Democrats welcomed the additional day of early voting, but called on the state to do more, per AP.

  • “It’s a step in the right direction, but it is a very small step,” said state House Minority Leader Rep. Emily Virgin (D). “It’s fairly hard to vote in Oklahoma, as compared to other states. We need to be doing a whole lot more in terms of increasing voter turnout.”

Go deeper: The states weighing voting changes

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