A change in state law allows some 17-year-olds to register to vote.

Senate Bill 496, passed in the previous legislative session, allows teens who are 17½ years old to pre-register to vote. The bill went into effect Nov. 1.

“Voting is one of our greatest freedoms, and that first time to vote is such a memorable experience. Unfortunately, many forget that they have to register 60 days before the election and end up not being able to vote until the following year,” said Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, the bill’s author. “Hopefully, by using age rather than a specific time period, it’ll be easier for people to remember to get registered to vote and we’ll see more of Oklahoma’s youth getting involved in the voting process.”

Previously, a 17-year-old could pre-register to vote 60 days before an election if their 18th birthday was on or before election day. The new law allows teens to pre-register when they turn 17½, regardless of when the election occurs, if they will turn 18 on or before election day.

“We hope this bill will encourage more young people to do their civic duty and elect candidates to represent their interests at the local, state and national level,” said Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, a co-author.

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