Laws governing the initiative process in Oklahoma
- 1 Basic Procedures
- 2 =Distribution requirement
- 3 Oklahoma's ballot access rating
- 4 Initiative and Referendum Law
In order to file an initiative in Oklahoma, take your initiative petition in final camera-ready artwork form to the Secretary of State. Once the initiative is filed with the Secretary of State, you can begin to collect signatures.
Note: the legislature or the Governor can order an initiative to appear on a special election ballot.
Oklahoma is the only state that requires the name of the petition signer to be on the back of the petition.
The initiative can be submitted for the November general election at any time. However, the Secretary of State recommends submitting them 8 months prior to the election. This is because the state has a provision that the ballot title set by the Secretary of State can be challenged. If a ballot title is challenged, the state supreme court reviews the challenge. Since there is no statutory requirement to rule on the challenge, there have been instances where courts have taken over a year to make a ruling. However, the absolute latest deadline for submitting signatures is 60 days prior to the election (primary or general).
Each individual petition has its own deadline. Once the petition drive has commenced, the signatures must be collected and turned in to the government within ninety days of the day the first signature was collected.
Number of required signatures
- Main article: Oklahoma signature requirements
The number of signatures that must be collected is tied to the total votes cast for the office receiving the most votes in the last General Election. Below are the number based on the 2005 General Election. Signatures are presumed valid unless challenged.
- Referendum (5%) 46,324
- Initiative (8%) 74,117
- Initiative for Constitutional Change (15%) 138,970
- Rejected Initiative or Referendum Measures (25%) 231,616 (1)
Oklahoma does not have a distribution requirement.
Residency of circulators
- Main article: Residency requirements for petition circulators
In 1969, Oklahoma passed a law saying that petition circulators must be residents of the state. In October 2007, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson launched a criminal prosecution of Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson and Rick Carpenter for allegedly violating the state's residency requirement in a 2005 petition drive to put the Stop Overspending initiative on the state's ballot.
The residency requirement was, at the time of Edmondson's indictment, being challenged in federal court in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage as unconstitutional. On December 18, 2008, the Tenth Circuit unanimously invalidated Oklahoma's residency law on the grounds of unconstitutionality.
Single Subject Restriction
Oklahoma has a single-subject rule.
The legislature can both repeal and amend initiatives, according to a court ruling.
Oklahoma's ballot access rating
In June of 2007, Ballot Access News gave Oklahoma the lowest rating for its ballot access rules for putting the names of minor political parties on the ballot, due to its having the largest (3 percent) requirement of signatures needed to place a party on the ballot.
Initiative and Referendum Law
- Oklahoma Initiative and Referendum Constitution and Statutes
- Initiative and Referendum Brief by the Oklahoma Secretary of State
- Oklahoma Signature Requirements (1)
- Brief of Petition Process in Oklahoma
- Residency Requirements(2)
- Oklahoma for Modern Beverage Controls v. Shelton (3)
- Opinions from Oklahoma courts governing the initiative process
- It's toast: State ballot blander than in past
- Ballot Access News, "10th Circuit Refuses to Rehear Case on Out-of-State Circulators", January 21, 2009
- Associated Press, "State won't appeal initiative petition ruling", January 21, 2009
- Ballot Access Comparison Chart
State of Oklahoma
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