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State representatives encourage residents to register to vote by Friday

Oklahoma_Friday is the deadline to register to vote in the state's upcoming Presidential Primary, prompting State Representatives Scott Inman, Eric Proctor and Joe Dorman to get the word out to citizens.

January 11 is the last day to register to vote or to change your party registration for the Presidential Primary scheduled for February 5. Because both parties have closed primaries, a participant must be registered with a party affiliation to vote in that party's primary.

"It is important to participate in the electoral process since this is the only way to influence government successfully and change things in the system," said Inman, D-Oklahoma City. "Every election cycle, you see a race where one vote does make a difference."

"Everyone should be registered and cast their ballots with the proper information in hand about the candidates and issues," said Proctor, D-Tulsa. "When I taught high school government, I made my students take the time to research the candidates, not to believe e-mails and rumors that go around about those candidates and to vote smart."

Inman said there are several misconceptions that usually prevent citizens from registering to vote in primaries, including the idea that a person must be 18 years old by the registration deadline.

"One common myth is that if you are not 18 by Friday, you will not be able to register „Ÿ even if you will be 18 by or on Election Day," said Inman. "This is just not true. You can go ahead and register now if you will be 18 by or on Election Day and you will be allowed to vote. Every person who is 18 years of age or older is guaranteed the right to vote by the United States Constitution provided they meet the proper requirements."

Proctor also noted that college students in other states who are residents of Oklahoma and are registered to vote here have two options if they cannot make it home to vote in the primary: first, he or she can get a voter absentee ballot form from either their county election board or online at the state election board Web site. The form can be filled out and submitted and the ballot will be mailed to the person's out-of-state address. Second, the person can re-register at their college address.

While there are some misconceptions, it is true that a person who is registered as an Independent may not vote in the primary, said Dorman, D-Rush Springs.

"If you are registered as an Independent, you will not be allowed to cast a vote in the primary since only candidates from the two major parties will be on the party ballots," said Dorman. "Only Democrats will be allowed to vote for Democratic presidential candidates and the same goes for the Republicans in their primary.

"It is unfortunate that many registered voters are not allowed to vote in these primaries, but that is the system we have established here in our state. If you are getting registered for the first time and want to vote for one of the current presidential candidates, you need to decide which party fits you the best and register with one of the two so you can vote on February 5th."

Citizens can get registration forms from their local tag agency, post office, library or county election board. Also, many school superintendents and principals will have the forms on hand.

The form must be postmarked by Friday, February 11, 2008 to be counted. If it is mailed later than Friday, it will not be valid for the primary on February 5th.

From the office of State Rep. Joe Dorman

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