Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Oklahoma

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This page contains extensive information about ballot access requirements for state and federal candidates running for elected office in the state of Oklahoma. Offices included are:

This page contains information on specific filing dates for each election year, how to become a candidate, how to create a political party, campaign finance requirements, state agency contacts involved in the election process, and term limits in Oklahoma. Information on running for election as a presidential candidate or for county and municipal offices is not included. This page reflects research completed in April 2014.

Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.

Year-specific dates

2014

See also: Oklahoma elections, 2014

Oklahoma had a primary election on June 24, 2014 and will have a general election on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The candidate filing period for the 2014 elections began April 9, 2014 and ended April 11, 2014.[1] Any challenges to a candidate's candidacy must have been filed by April 15, 2014.[2] Groups wishing to form new political parties for the 2014 elections had to file their Notice of Intent and qualifying petitions by March 1, 2014.[3] These deadlines, along with campaign finance reporting deadlines, are included in the table below.[4]

Legend:      Ballot Access     Campaign Finance     Election Date




Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014
Deadline Event Type Event Description
March 1, 2014 Ballot Access Deadline to file paperwork to form a new political party
April 9, 2014 Ballot Access Candidate filing period begins
April 11, 2014 Ballot Access Candidate filing deadline
April 15, 2014 Ballot Access Deadline to challenge the candidacy of a candidate
April 30, 2014 Campaign Finance First Contribution and Expenditure Report due
June 16, 2014 Campaign Finance Primary Pre-election Contribution and Expenditure Report due
June 24, 2014 Election Date State primary date
August 18, 2014 Campaign Finance Primary Runoff Pre-election Contribution and Expenditure Report due
August 26, 2014 Election Date State primary runoff
October 27, 2014 Campaign Finance General Pre-election Contribution and Expenditure Report due
November 4, 2014 Election Date General election
January 31, 2015 Campaign Finance Final Contribution and Expenditure Report due

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of November 2013, the state of Oklahoma officially recognizes two political parties.[5] In order to be recognized by the state, a political party must fulfill certain requirements, which are outlined below in "Process to establish a political party."

Party Website link By-laws/Platform link
Republican Party Official party website Party platform
Democratic Party Official party website Party by-laws

In some states, a candidate may choose to have a label other than that of an officially recognized party appear alongside his or her name on the ballot. Such labels are called political party designations. A political party designation would be used when a candidate qualifies as an independent, but prefers to use a different label. Oklahoma[6] does not allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.

The 11 states listed below (and Washington, D.C.) do not provide a process for political organizations to gain qualified status in advance of an election. Instead, in these states, an aspirant party must first field candidates using party designations. If the candidate or candidates win the requisite votes, the organization may then be recognized as an official political party. In these states, a political party can be formed only if the candidate in the general election obtains a specific number of votes. The number of votes required and type of race vary from state to state. Details can be found on the state-specific requirements pages.[7]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 26, Chapter 1 of the Oklahoma Code

Gaining status

The first step in forming a new political party in Oklahoma is to file a Notice of Intent form with the Oklahoma State Election Board. This form can be filed at any time except between March 1 and November 15 of even-numbered years.[8]

Once the Notice of Intent form is filed, the new political party must circulate a qualifying petition to collect signatures of registered voters equal to at least five percent of the total votes cast in the last general election for governor or president. The qualifying petition can be circulated for up to one year after a Notice of Intent form is filed, but it cannot be circulated between March 1 and November 15 of any even-numbered year. To qualify as a political party in time to access the ballot in an election year, the petition must be filed by March 1 of that year. If the Oklahoma State Election Board finds that the qualifying petition contains enough valid signatures, the political party will be officially recognized by the state.[8] As an officially recognized political party, it may nominate candidates at a primary election.[9]

Maintaining status

To continue to be officially recognized by the state, a political party's candidate for governor or president in a general election must receive at least 10 percent of the vote. If the candidate fails to receive 10 percent of the vote, the party will cease to be recognized by the state. A political party that has lost its recognition is considered a "political organization." In order to be recognized again, the political organization must re-qualify by following the procedures described above. A political organization designation may last for only four years or until the organization re-qualifies as a political party.[10]

For an example of the signatures and votes needed to qualify and maintain officially recognized political party status, look to the table below.

Total votes cast for president in 2012 Number of signatures required on a qualifying petition Number of votes needed to maintain party status
1,334,872[11] 66,744 133,488

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is a sample Declaration of Candidacy form candidates are required to file in Oklahoma.
Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors
  • 45 states have Lt. governors, 43 of them fill the office by election
  • 21 states elect Lt. governors on a single ticket with the governor at both the primary and general elections
  • 5 states elect Lt. governors separately from Governors at the primary and then put the top two vote-getters together on the general election ballot
  • 17 states, including Oklahoma, elect Lt. governors separately from the Governor

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 26, Chapter 5 of the Oklahoma Code

Filing

All candidates must file a Declaration of Candidacy with the Oklahoma State Election Board to place their names on the ballot.[12][13] This must be filed during the candidate filing period, which begins on the second Wednesday in April and ends on the following Friday.[14] The Declaration of Candidacy must be signed and notarized and include the following:[15]

  • The name of the candidate
  • The candidate's address
  • The office the candidate seeks
  • The candidate's date of birth
  • The candidate's political party affiliation
  • The precinct and county where the candidate is a registered voter
  • A sworn oath affirming that the candidate is qualified to become a candidate of the office sought and to hold that office if elected

Candidates must be affiliated as registered voters of the political party they wish to run with for at least six months immediately preceding the first day of the candidate filing period. This is true for independent candidates as well. They must have been registered as independent voters for at least six months before filing as a candidate. Candidates of a new political party that has not been officially recognized for six months must have registered with that party within 15 days after its recognition.[16]

Candidates may file for only one office per election.[17] There is no process for candidates to run as write-ins as write-in voting is not permitted in Oklahoma.[18]

Fees

With their Declaration of Candidacy, candidates must pay a filing fee to the Oklahoma State Election Board or else file a petition signed by four percent of registered voters who will be eligible to vote for them in the first election in which their names will appear on the ballot using the latest January 15 voter registration report.[19]

Filing fees are determined by the office sought by the candidate and are as follows:[19]

Office sought Filing fee
Governor of Oklahoma $1,500
United States Senator $1,000
United States Representative $750
Lieutenant Governor, Corporation Commission, Attorney General, State Auditor and Inspector, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Treasurer, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Labor $500
Any office not listed above $200

For examples of signatures needed to waive the filing fee, look to the table below.

Office sought Voter registration totals as of January 15, 2014 Number of signatures required
Oklahoma state executive offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, etc.) 1,978,812[20] 79,153
U.S. Representative from District 1 482,907[20] 19,317
State Senator from District 27 41,341[20][21] 1,654

Challenges

Any candidate may challenge another candidate’s candidacy by filing a written petition of contest with the Oklahoma State Election Board. If there is only one candidate running for office, any registered voter who is eligible to vote for that candidate may file a contesting petition.[22] This must be done by 5 p.m. on the second business day after the close of the candidate filing period.[23] The contesting petition must be accompanied by a deposit of $250, which will be returned to the challenger if he or she successfully proves the candidate does not fulfill all requirements to be a candidate for that office.[24][25]

Petition requirements

In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain ballot access. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, petitions are used to qualify a new political party or to waive a filing fee. To qualify a new political party, signatures equal to five percent of the total votes cast in the last general election for governor or president need to be collected.[26] To waive a filing fee, a petition must be signed by four percent of registered voters who will be eligible to vote for the candidate in the first election in which their names will appear on the ballot.[27]

The form of the petition is prescribed by the Oklahoma State Election Board. While being circulated, petitions must be separated into pages based on counties. Each page can contain signatures of registered voters from only one county.[26]

The Oklahoma Code does not stipulate any requirements for circulators of petitions. Specifically, there are no residency requirements for circulators.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 74, Chapter 62 of the Oklahoma Statutes

This section covers all campaign finance reporting requirements for candidates running for state office in Oklahoma. Candidates running for federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission.

Reporting requirements

Filing online

All candidates in Oklahoma file their campaign finance reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Candidates who receive contributions in excess of $10,000 are required to file their reports online, but the online system is open to every candidate.[28]

The online campaign reporting system can be found here. For help on how to use the online system, use the Campaign Reporting System Guide.

Statement of Organization

Before they can start filing campaign finance reports, candidates must first file a Statement of Organization (Form SO-1) to form a candidate committee, which will be in charge of all contributions and expenditures for the campaign. The Statement of Organization must provide the name of the committee, which must include the name of the candidate and the year of the election in which the candidate will be running, as well as designate a committee chair and a treasurer. The candidate may hold both of those positions but may only designate one candidate committee per election cycle. The Statement of Organization must be filed within 10 days of the candidate filing a Declaration of Candidacy, or within 10 days of receiving or spending $500, whichever comes first.[29][30] The candidate committee must then establish a campaign account for all campaign finance activity.[28]

  • The campaign account can be deposited in more than one location, as long as each location is a financial institution that ordinarily conducts business with the state and has an office in the state that ordinarily conducts business with the general public, and as long as each depository contains the whole name of the candidate committee without acronyms as well as the candidate's name and the year of the election in which the candidate is running.[30][31]
  • All expenditures in excess of $50, not including those made by the candidate from personal funds, must be taken from the campaign account and issued on a check signed by the candidate, treasurer or chair of the candidate committee.[31]
  • All contributions received on behalf of the candidate committee must be handed over to the treasurer within five days after receipt of the contribution. Contributions must then be deposited into the campaign account by the treasurer no later that 10 days after the treasurer accepted the contribution.[31]

Statement of Financial Interests

Candidates are also required to file a Statement of Financial Interests (Form F-1R) to itemize their sources of income. The amount of the income is not required. This form may be filed anytime between January 1 and the tenth day after a candidate files a Declaration of Candidacy. Candidates who are successfully elected to public office must file this form by May 15 of each year they hold that office.[28][32]

Contribution and Expenditure Reports

  • All candidate committees must file Contribution and Expenditure Reports (C-1R Reports) showing all financial reporting activity for each established reporting period. However, if a candidate committee expects to receive or spend less than $500 in a calendar year, they may file an Affidavit of Minimal Activity with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission by April 30 of the election year. This allows the candidate committee to file only annual reports.[28][33]
  • Contribution and Expenditure Reports are filed quarterly.
    • During non-election years, they must be filed as follows:[33]
Report due date Time period covered
April 30 January 1 through March 31
July 31 April 1 through June 30
September 30 July 1 through August 31
January 31 September 1 through December 31
  • During election years, Contribution and Expenditure Reports must be filed in the following way:
Report due date Time period covered
April 30 January 1 through March 31
8 days before the primary election April 1 through 15 days before the primary election
8 days before the primary run-off election (if applicable) 14 days before the primary election through 15 days before the primary run-off election
8 days before the general election 14 days before the primary or primary run-off election through 15 days before the general election
January 31 14 days before the general election through December 31
  • During an election year, Last Minute Contributions Reports (C-4R Reports) might also be required. These are necessary to report contributions of $500 or more from one source after the closing of a pre-election report but before the date of the next election and are due within 24 hours of receipt of the contribution.[28][34]
  • If no expenditures were made and no contributions were received during a reporting period, the candidate committee can file a Statement of Inactivity (Form C-3R) instead of the regularly scheduled report.[28]
  • If mailing or hand-delivering reports, they are considered timely only when received by 5 p.m. of the due date. If filing electronically or by fax, they are considered timely if received by midnight of the due date. If a report is not delivered in a timely fashion, late fees will be applied, from $100 to $1,000 per day.[28]
  • Reporting must continue until the campaign is concluded by filing a Final Report. This report may be filed at any time after a candidate's name appears on the ballot as long as the candidate committee can show a zero balance. If a candidate committee has surplus funds at the end of the campaign, there a number of ways the committee can disperse those funds, including:[28]
    • Deposit the funds with the State Treasurer for the General Revenue Fund
    • Return the funds to the contributors
    • Donate the funds to a charitable organization
    • Retain the funds for use in a future election within six years of the general election in which the candidate ran
    • Use the funds to perform official duties as a public officeholder
    • Use the funds for political or community activities
    • Transfer the funds to a political party

Contributor Statement

Contributors who give more than $50 to a campaign must sign a Contributor Statement. This is due within 10 days of the candidate committee receiving the contribution and must provide the following information:[28][35]

  • The date the contribution was given
  • The amount of the contribution (if in-kind, a description and estimated value of the contribution must be provided)
  • The name of the contributor
  • The address of the contributor
  • The occupation, employer or principal business activity of the contributor
  • A declaration stating that the contribution is for a campaign in the state of Oklahoma and that it was freely and voluntarily given from the contributor's personal property

Contribution limits

Limits

Contribution limits in Oklahoma are as follows:[28]

  • A family, defined as an individual, the individual's spouse and any and all children under the age of 18 residing in the same household, may give a maximum of $5,000 to a candidate committee for an entire campaign and $5,000 annually to a person, committee or party supporting or opposing candidates.
  • Corporations and labor organizations are prohibited from contributing to any committee supporting or opposing candidates.
  • Political parties may contribute up to $5,000 to a candidate.
  • Individuals may not make cash contributions of more than $50.
  • Individuals may not anonymously contribute money in excess of $50. If a candidate receives such a contribution, it must remit the funds to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission within two business days of receiving it.
  • Contributions from foreign nationals are prohibited.

How contributions may be used

Contributions may only be used in the following ways:[28][36]

  • To pay any campaign expenditures
  • To pay necessary expenses connected to duties as a public officeholder that are not reimbursed
  • To pay off debts of a former election campaign
  • To pay for expenses in a future election campaign
  • To pay for political activity
  • To pay for community activity
  • To pay for tickets for the Speaker's Ball

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

Candidates running for office may require some form of interaction with the following agencies:

  • Oklahoma State Election Board
Why: Oversees all candidate filing
Room B-6, State Capitol Building
2300 N Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4804
Phone: 405.521.2391
Fax: 405.521.6457
Website: http://www.ok.gov/elections/index.html
Email: info@elections.ok.gov
  • Oklahoma Ethics Commission
Why: Oversees all campaign finance reporting
2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Rm B-5
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4812
Phone: (405) 521-3451
Website: http://www.ok.gov/oec/

Term limits

State executives

Portal:State Executive Officials
See also: State executives with term limits and States with gubernatorial term limits

The state executive term limits in Oklahoma are as follows:

  • Governor must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after two consecutive terms.
  • Superintendent must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after two consecutive terms.
  • Labor Commissioner must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after two consecutive terms.

There are no state executive officials who are term-limited in 2014.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

A politician can serve in the Oklahoma State Legislature for a 12-year cumulative total in either or both chambers.

Term limits were imposed on state legislators by a constitutional amendment passed in 1990.

2014

See also: Impact of term limits on state senate elections in 2014 and Impact of term limits on state representative elections in 2014

A total of 11 state legislators will be termed out in 2014.

Name Party Chamber District
Dale DeWitt Ends.png Republican State House District 38
Gus Blackwell Ends.png Republican State House District 61
Don Armes Ends.png Republican State House District 63
Joe Dorman Electiondot.png Democratic State House District 65
Rebecca Hamilton Electiondot.png Democratic State House District 89
Mike Reynolds Ends.png Republican State House District 91
John Trebilcock Ends.png Republican State House District 98
Jerry Ellis Electiondot.png Democratic State Senate District 5
Harry Coates Ends.png Republican State Senate District 28
Cliff Branan Ends.png Republican State Senate District 40
Cliff Aldridge Ends.png Republican State Senate District 42

2012

See also: Impact of term limits on state senate elections in 2012 and Impact of term limits on state representative elections in 2012

A total of 8 state legislators will be termed out in 2012.

2010

See also: Impact of term limits on state senate elections in 2010 and Impact of term limits on state representative elections in 2010

A total of 10 state legislators will be termed out in 2010.

Congressional partisanship

Portal:Congress
See also: List of United States Representatives from Oklahoma and List of United States Senators from Oklahoma

Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Oklahoma:

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Oklahoma
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 0 0 0
     Republican Party 2 5 7
TOTALS as of August 2014 2 5 7

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Oklahoma:

Senate

Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 12
     Republican Party 36
Total 48

House

Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 29
     Republican Party 72
Total 101

See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

News

Other information

References

  1. Oklahoma State Election Board Website, "2014 Statewide Elections," accessed November 14, 2014
  2. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 119," accessed February 12, 2014
  3. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 108," accessed February 12, 2014
  4. Oklahoma State Election Board, "2014 Election Report Submission Dates," accessed February 17, 2014
  5. Oklahoma State Election Board Website, "Frequently Asked Questions: Political Parties," accessed November 26, 2013
  6. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 110," accessed December 4, 2013
  7. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 108," accessed February 12, 2014
  9. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 102," accessed February 12, 2014
  10. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 109," accessed February 12, 2014
  11. Oklahoma State Election Board Website, "Official Results: General Election November 6, 2012," accessed February 12, 2014
  12. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 101," accessed February 12, 2014
  13. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 102," accessed February 12, 2014
  14. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 110," accessed February 12, 2014
  15. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 111," accessed February 12, 2014
  16. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 105," accessed February 12, 2014
  17. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 106," accessed February 12, 2014
  18. Oklahoma State Election Board Website, "Frequently Asked Questions: Write-in Voting," accessed February 12, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 112," accessed February 12, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Oklahoma State Election Board, "Current Registration Statistics by County," Updated January 15, 2014
  21. Oklahoma House of Representatives, "State of Oklahoma 2012-2020 Senate Districts," accessed February 19, 2014
  22. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 118," accessed February 12, 2014
  23. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 119," accessed February 12, 2014
  24. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 121," accessed February 12, 2014
  25. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 131," accessed February 12, 2014
  26. 26.0 26.1 Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 1, Section 108," accessed February 12, 2014
  27. Oklahoma Code, "Title 26, Chapter 5, Section 112," accessed February 12, 2014
  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 State of Oklahoma, "2012-2013 Constitutional Ethics Rules Instruction Manual on State Campaign Reporting and Financial Disclosure for Candidates for State Office," Revised May 25, 2012
  29. Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Administrative Operations, Section 257: 1-1-2," accessed February 17, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-8," accessed February 17, 2014
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-10," accessed February 17, 2014
  32. Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Personal Financial Disclosure, Section 257: 15-1-4," accessed February 17, 2014
  33. 33.0 33.1 Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-13," accessed February 17, 2014
  34. Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-15," accessed February 17, 2014
  35. Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-2," accessed February 17, 2014
  36. Oklahoma Statutes, "Title 74, Chapter 62: Campaign Reporting, Section 257: 10-1-20," accessed February 17, 2014