The Oklahoma State Election Board warned Friday against invalid voter registration forms it said are being submitted through the website register2vote.org.
“This is a prime example of an organization creating misinformation that could cause Oklahoma voters to become disenfranchised,” said Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. “The application used by Register2Vote appears to be a document created specifically for the organization and cobbles together language from both the National Mail Application and the Oklahoma Voter Registration Application.”
The election board statement calls the form “fake.”
Ziriax later said he talked with Register2Vote Director Jeremy Smith and concluded “the organization had good intentions and did not deliberately seek to provide Oklahomans with forms that are not valid under our law.”
He said the election board will work with Register2Vote to provide valid registration forms.
People who submitted the invalid forms are being notified by mail with a valid form enclosed.
In a letter from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Schneider, the election board’s general counsel, Register2Vote was asked to stop using the invalid form.
It isn’t clear how many of the forms have been submitted statewide, but Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman said her office has received two.
According to news reports, Register2Vote.org was formed two years ago by an Austin, Texas, software designer intent on boosting voter registration in the belief it would benefit Democrats.
It is affiliated with Map the Vote, a computer program that identifies people who are registered to vote but aren’t.
Register2Vote does not specifically encouraged Democratic Party registration, and in fact offers Oklahomans a couple of choices — “Constitition” (sic) and Green — that aren’t recognized in this state.
Attempts to reach Register2Vote Friday were unsuccessful.
Freeman said other third-party voter registration enterprises have been problematic as well.
“I think they’re trying to do a good thing, but they can cause someone to be disenfranchised,” she said. “We had a lot of that in the midterms. For some reason they were directing people to the wrong precincts.”
Freeman said the national organization of election officials recommends people register only through county or state election boards.
Ziriax, who is appointed by the Republican leadership of the state Senate, said Register2Vote’s connections to the Democratic Party had nothing to do with Friday’s warning.
“I have no idea who runs this website and do not care,” said Ziriax. “This has zero to do with politics.
“Even if done with good intentions, an organization that provides citizens with incorrect information or forms can result in their disenfranchisement,” he said. “This is not acceptable. Because of all the misinformation out there, we are going to push back against this type of thing much more strongly and directly than in the past.”
Oklahoma is one of about a dozen states without online voter registration. It has been authorized for several years but technical difficulties associated with identity verification have delayed implementation.
Voter registration forms are available at county election boards and most tag agencies, libraries and post offices, as well as through the state election board website ok.gov/elections/.