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Settlement in Oklahoma Sparks Huge Increase in Voter Registration

Jenn Rolnick Borchetta

We have an exciting update about what has happened since we reached our comprehensive settlement in Oklahoma to improve voter registration services for citizens across the state.

First, some context. Between 2013-2014, the Oklahoma State Election Board (SEB) reported receiving 254 voter registration applications at public assistance agencies. This included individuals registering for the first time and updating their information. These low numbers of voter registration applications are what inspired our initial investigation and subsequent notice letter to the state.

In August 2015, the first month following a settlement with Demos and partners, the SEB reported receiving 1,574 voter registration applications from state public assistance agencies, an increase of almost 520 percent.

Of the total registrations received from public assistance agencies, the (SEB) received 1,206 new voters who were not previously registered in the county. Compare that to 2013-2014, when Oklahoma reported an average of about 179 new voter registrations submitted at public assistance agencies per month.

This increase is striking in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The SEB reported receiving only 57 voter registration applications from public assistance offices in Tulsa throughout the entire 2013-2014 reporting period, an average of slightly over 2 per month. Following the changes implemented as a result of the agreement Demos and partners reached with the state, public assistance agencies in Tulsa recorded 228 voter registration applications in August.

Overall, this significant growth in new voter registrations is an example of what is possible when elected officials, community leaders, citizens, and advocates work to develop solutions that benefit all citizens. We look forward to continuing to work with officials and partners in Oklahoma to create an election system that is responsive to and representative of our new American Demos.