Legislation signed by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin will help individuals who are not physically able to travel to the county election board send a person in their place to make an application for an absentee ballot.

Senate Bill 276, by state Sen. Randy Bass and state Rep. Joe Dorman, requires the person sent to make an application for an absentee ballot to be at least 16 years of age and only do so for one voter. It took immediate effect upon being signed into law.

“I have had constituents who have talked to us about problems elderly and disabled Oklahomans have had with voting and I wanted to improve the absentee ballot application process for them to ensure their vote is counted,” said Bass, D-Lawton. “This bill limits a single individual to one absentee ballot application on behalf of another person to make sure it is not a vehicle for voter fraud. I was pleased to see it signed into law.”

“We had an primary election in 2012 with very low turnout in some Western Oklahoma districts and I want to ensure that low turnout isn’t made worse because certain members of the community are unable to get out to vote,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “This legislation improves the absentee ballot application process so that individuals who are confined to their home for one reason or another can still have their vote counted.”

A second bill, Senate Bill 277, will soon be available for the governor’s review after passing unanimously in both the Senate and House. The legislation, also by Bass and Dorman, authorizes county election boards to appoint volunteer inspectors, judges, clerks and counters. Current law requires workers to be paid.

“This will save county election boards money and I appreciate the support it has received,” said Bass, D-Lawton. “I expect that it will be signed into law shortly.”

One senior-assistance program, Advantage Plus, limits the amount they can receive. Allowing them to volunteer, gives them a chance to participate in a process they might otherwise be unable to participate in, Dorman said.

“Volunteer workers are a great way to save local county election boards money,” said Dorman. “There are always numerous Oklahomans willing to assist with the voting process as many consider it an honor. It is voluntary under the legislation, so no county election board would be forced to use volunteers if they have a need for paid employees.”