Oklahoma has a long military history providing both the training and the personnel needed to respond to our nations’ security needs. Fort Sill in Oklahoma was built in 1869 and is currently home to the US Army Field Artillery School and serves as one of the Army’s Basic Training sites. Fort Sill was also the home of the 45th Infantry Division, which fought across Italy, France and Germany in World War II and was one of only two National Guard units who saw service in the Korean War. Today, Oklahoma is currently home to over 47,000 military personnel.
Because of the significant presence of the United States Armed Forces in Oklahoma, the Governor, Legislature and election officials have taken significant steps to protect the voting rights of uniformed service personnel and their dependents. Those efforts were on display in 2011 when it passed comprehensive military voting reform.
A key component of that reform was the Let the Troops Vote Act, House Bill 1615, which modified Oklahoma’s election calendar to ensure election officials have time to meet the MOVE Act’s 45-day deadline for sending absentee ballots to uniformed and overseas voters. It also expanded the 45-day deadline to include all elections for state offices and allowed military voters to receive election materials electronically.
Oklahoma has put into place many other protections for military voters to ensure they have adequate opportunities to exercise their right to vote. For example, Oklahoma allows a 90-day grace period for recently discharged troops to vote in an election even if they missed the voter registration deadline. Oklahoma also allows the return of uniformed and overseas voters’ absentee ballots by fax in emergency situations, and participates in the FVAP’s email-to-fax conversion program for uniformed personnel to help guarantee that all military ballots arrive on time to be counted.
Oklahomans take pride in the United States Armed Forces. Protecting their voting rights is a top priority for Oklahoma’s policy makers and election officials.