Oklahoma State Question No. 740 (2008)

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The Oklahoma Ballot Access Reform Initiative is an initiated state statute that would return the number of signatures requred for a party to qualify for the state ballot to 5,000 valid signatures.[1]

Background

1974

Third party registration was restricted in Oklahoma in 1974 when it increased the amount of signatures needed to qualify a party for the ballot to 5 percent of the total votes cast in the presidential election. This amounted (by todays standards) to an increase from 5,000 signatures to about 70,000 signatures that must be collected in 90 days.[2] This was challenged in the 1976 court case, McClendon v. Slater.[3]

1984

U.S. District Judge Lee West released an opinion that called Oklahoma's ballot access the "harshest" in the national. He also found the Attorney General's office as acting with "inexcusable conduct" to not allow the Libertarian Party on the ticket.[4]

1995

The 10th circuit refused to allow people to "write in" names on the presidential ballot.[5]

1996

The Reform party was finally allowed access to the presidential ballot, but only after suing the state and waiting 18 months.[6]

2005

The US Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold Oklahoma state law against a Libertarian Party challenge. Specifically the court upheld a law that does not permit a qualified party to invite members of other parties to vote in its primary.[7]

2006

Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform tried to pass an initiative to lessen restrictions on qualifying parties.

Third parties also are required to receive 10 percent of the vote in one general election to retain recognition and stay on the ballot for the next general election in accordance with today's law.[8]

Support

The proponents of the initiative are the Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform, a coalition of different parties that range from the Constitutional Party to the Oklahoma Green Party.

Some of the groups arguments for the initiative include:

  • Oklahoma was the only state to only offer 2 parties on 2004 Presidential ballot
  • The state now has the highest amount of signatures required to qualify a party for the ballot with Petitioning requirement for full party ballot access 73,188 valid signatures for the full party access and 43,913 valid signatures for the Presidential primary.

Legislative Support

Also the 2007 Oklahoma Republican Party Platform states: “We support less restrictive ballot access for all political parties and candidates.” (III.G.6.)

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia[9]

Financing

The group has decided to double the pay of its paid circulators, if those paid circulators turn in at least 50 signatures on any particular day hoping to speed up the initiative process.[10]

The group also had a donor that has promised the initiative $50,000 if it can earn $25,000.

Newspaper Endorsements

The state's largest newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, said in an editorial, “We agree that it’s too tough for an independent party to get a presidential aspirant on the ballot and reform is needed.”

An Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs article says "It is surprising that a state with Oklahoma's populist tradition...is the nation's most restrictive state in terms of ballot access."[11]

Opposition

no information yet

Insufficient number of signatures filed

OBAR filed approximately 14,000 signatures in January 2008, far fewer than the 74,117 required, but an OBAR news release stated that the number filed showed "strong support for expanding the number of choices on the ballot."

The group's difficulty in collecting sufficient signatures was attributed to a hostile and fearful climate resulting from indictments brought against the Oklahoma 3, three individuals involved in a previous petition effort for the Taxpayers Bill of Rights initiative (TABOR). The effort was also hampered by Oklahoma’s residency law requiring petition circulators to be state residents, the requirement that the TABOR effort is charged with violating. Oklahoma’s best professional petitioners are currently working on initiatives in other states that pay far more per signature than OBAR can afford to pay, and they cannot bring in circulators from other states.[12]

External links

See also

References