Johnson/Weld Will Be Oklahoma’s Alternative Presidential Vote This Year

johnson-weldAs of Sunday, Oklahoma voters will have the option to pick between three candidates for President and Vice President. The Libertarian Party held its national convention this past weekend and they elected Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for President and Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld for Vice President. Both candidates took two ballots to elect, but both pulled a little over 49% of the vote on the first ballot.

This is great news for voters in Oklahoma and especially the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma. They spent a lot of time and money to get on the ballot this year and are excited for this news.

Congratulations to Governor Johnson and Governor Weld, the Libertarian Party’s candidates for President and Vice President of the United States!

You weren’t handed this victory on a silver platter, it wasn’t scripted or “made for TV”, and it definitely wasn’t easy, heck it wasn’t even pretty. Because of this the world got to see a legitimate and principled political process take place, and this is just one of the reasons why the Libertarian Party is the ONLY legitimate party on the ballot in 2016!

We are all looking forward to a presidential campaign that puts our party’s principles in the limelight and on the presidential debate stage. The momentum you will provide will cause the Libertarian message to be loud and clear in the main stream benefiting Libertarian races all over the country, and there’s no reason for us not to push it on into the White House from there!

According to recent news, Gary Johnson is already polling well against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In addition to that, the Co-Chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates has called for Gary Johnson’s inclusion in future polling.

We will keep you up to date on any future news.

SB896 Signed Into Law By Governor Fallin

On Thursday, May 5, 2015, Governor Fallin signed SB896 into law. This law lowers the vote test needed for parties to retain recognition in Oklahoma. The previous requirement was 10% of the vote for President or Governor. Now, parties only need to gain 2.5% of the vote.

This year, the lower retention requirement will only really apply to the Libertarian Party, which successfully petitioned to gain recognition. However, if the Libertarian Party is successful in retaining its recognition, it will inspire other parties to attempt the petition.

With a lower petition requirement and a lower retention requirement, Oklahoma can see new parties arise and stay in place long enough to gain significant traction.

Yet, the work is not done yet. We still have a number of reforms we are fighting for, including lowering the petition requirement for independent presidential candidates, getting rid of straight party voting, and getting a write-in option in Oklahoma. We also feel that the petition and retention requirement for new parties is still too high.

Libertarian Party Of Oklahoma Has 676 Registrants

As of May 4, 2016 (PDF), The Libertarian Party of Oklahoma has 676 registered members in the state. Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, and Canadian counties make up the top 4 counties with 192, 126, 71, and 35 registrants respectively.

There are nine counties with registrations between 10-19 Libertarians. There are twenty-one counties with no Libertarians. The other 43 counties have Libertarian registrations in the single digits.

It is tough to make a one to one comparison between these numbers and the last time the Libertarian Party was officially recognized in 2000 as the Oklahoma Election Board did not keep registration records between the January 15 reports in 2000 and 2001. In January 2001, the Libertarian Party had 770 registered members.

Other statistics of note, the American Elect Party still has members but lost one since January, for a total of 12. Registrants for the Democrats, Republicans and Independents all gained in numbers. The Republican party gained the most registrations in the last 4 months.

UPDATE: Libertarian Party Will Have The Only Statewide Primary In Oklahoma

Candidate filings are closed, all challenges and withdrawals of candidacy have been completed and as it stands, the Libertarian Party will have the only statewide primary. Two Libertarians filed to run for US Senate and both stuck it out through the withdrawal and challenge phase. Libertarians Dax Ewbank and Robert Murphy will be vying for the Libertarian nomination to run against Incumbent Republican James Lankford and Democratic candidate Mike Workman. Edit: Also running for US Senate are Independents Sean Braddy and Mark Beard.

The Democratic Party almost had a statewide primary, but candidate Steve Perry withdrew his candidacy.

This means that all Libertarian and Independent voters throughout the state will be able to cast a vote in a primary election on June 28. While there will be some Democratic Primaries around the state that independents will be allowed to vote in, they will be sparse and only cover portions of the state.

All told, there are a total of 16 Libertarian candidates. One candidate Frank Robinson had his filing rejected due to non-payment of the fee and no petition. Robinson claims indigent status and will fight the refusal in court. Robinson would have filed to run for US Representative District 3. Another candidate, Paul Brewbaker had his filing challenged by Incumbent Republican Roger Ford of OK House District 95. Brewbaker, unable to pay the $250 bond to fight the challenge, lost. He will not appear on the November ballot.

15 of those 16 Libertarian Candidates will appear on the November ballot. Additionally, 20 Independents filed to run for office, more than has filed in over 10 years.

SB896 On Its Way To Governor Fallin

SB896 is on its way to the governor’s desk. If it is signed into law, and should be within the week, it will reduce the percentage of the vote a party needs to get in the Presidential and Governor races to stay recognized. Currently, parties need to win 10% of the vote to maintain recognition. SB896 lowers that to 2.5%.

Oklahoma’s current 10% requirement is one of the strictest in the nation. While the reduction to 2.5% is a sizable decrease, it is still higher than the average of the surrounding states. OBAR supports a further decrease to 1% and making party status valid for a total of 4 years instead of the current 2. That means a party need only meet the vote test every other election rather than every election. OBAR also supports including more statewide elections into the mix including but not limited to US Senate and statewide elected executive positions such as Lt Governor and State Superintendent.

SB1108 Signed Into Law, Removes Presidential Electors From The Ballot

With the Libertarian Party now an officially recognized party in Oklahoma and more to come in the future, the ballots could become a crowded place if Oklahoma, one of only 5 states, continues to list all 7 Presidential Electors alongside the President and Vice President candidates they represent on the ballot. That has changed now that SB1108 passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed by Governor Fallin.

This November, when you go to the ballot, the only names that will appear at the top of the ticket will be the nominees for President and Vice President from the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties along with the any Independent or Unofficial Party candidates for President and Vice President, assuming they can actually meet Oklahoma’s still extremely harsh petitioning requirements for those ticket lines.

If voters wish to know who the Presidential Electors are, that information will be made available at the voting booth, but we at OBAR seriously doubt that information will be in high demand. So now, the only items that will seriously increase the length of the ballot will be the state questions which look to be increasing in number on a daily basis thanks to the State Legislature and not initiative petitions.

The Libertarian Party Now Qualified In Oklahoma

For the first time in 16 years, Oklahoma voters will have a real choice in the November elections. Today, the Oklahoma Election Board announced that the Libertarian Party met the petition requirement necessary for qualification.

In a press release sent today, the Libertarian Party celebrated this news while also lamenting the limited window for registering as a member of the party while also announcing the date of its State Convention.

Oklahoma law gives very little time for voters registered as Republican, Democrat, or Independent to re-register as Libertarian. The deadline for changing party affiliation is March 31, 2016. Those who re-register as Libertarians will be able to participate in the April 23rd Libertarian Party State Convention. (See details at http://oklahomalp.org/2016-state-convention/)

The deadline for first time voters to register in the Libertarian Party is June 3, 2016. All registered Libertarians and Independents will be able to cast votes for Libertarians in the June 28th statewide primary election.

However, if you want to run for office as a Libertarian, the Oklahoma Election Board will be accepting party affiliation changes for an additional five days after March 31. This is due to the overlap between the 15 days allotted by law to change parties if candidates wish to run under a newly qualified party and the April 1 cutoff date for party changes during primary season.

According to the Election Board, around 72% of the signatures gathered were deemed valid.

The Libertarians gathered 42,182 signatures. Of those, 30,517 were deemed valid. The minimum number needed to certify a new party was 24,745.

Finally, the Libertarian Party wishes to thank all those who made this effort possible.

The leadership of the OKLP would like to acknowledge all those who worked to bring another option to the voters of Oklahoma. A successful petition drive was just the beginning and now our focus will be reaching voters and candidates with the reality of looming deadlines.

To learn more about the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, you may visit the official website or their Facebook page.

Here is a link to the official press announcement from the Election Board.

The Green Party of Oklahoma also attempted a petition this year, but were unable to meet the required petition goal. This shows just how difficult Oklahoma’s reformed ballot access laws remain for grassroots parties.

Senate Rules Committee Passes 2.5% Retention Test And Straight Ticket Repeal

On Wednesday February 17, the Senate Rules Committee heard three election reform bills and passed them all unanimously. The two really important bills were SB896, the bill that lowers the party retention test from the current 10% of the vote to 2.5%, and SB1108, which removes the Straight Ticket device from the November ballots.

Both were heard and passed the committee. They now move to the full Senate, where they will hopefully be heard soon.

Also heard was SB1016 which removes party labels from voter registration forms. This bill also passed and moves on.

We will have more about all these bills going forward.

Representative Perryman wants Voters To Register Fingerprints And Facial Recognition

We are in luck this year. There is only one truly bad bill this year. While a couple of bills might be questionable, none have truly been as bad as Representative Perryman’s latest bill. HB2592 would require all people registering to vote, or updating their registration to register their fingerprints and facial recognition scan with the state.

The bill argues that this is a good thing because it will allow voters to use their fingerprints instead of a photo ID when voting. This unfortunately would cause a lot of problems with voters. It could discourage a lot of people from registering who are uncomfortable with the government taking their fingerprints or facial scans. This is compounded by the fact that these fingerprints and facial scans will be open to law enforcement.

It is unclear what Perryman hopes to accomplish with this bill. This goes well beyond the idea of protecting elections from fraud that came with the Voter ID law that was passed in 2010.

What else is troubling, is that Perryman introduced some arguably great bills this session. Why would he introduce this one along with them?

Of all the bills introduced this session, this is the only one that we will be directly advocating against.

New Bill Would Have All Elections Conducted By Mail In 2020

In several states, people are allowed to vote by mail, and some states require mail-only ballots. Representative Perryman has introduced HB2588 which would require all elections after 2020 to be conducted by mail.

Under this bill, county election boards will be required to send all registered voters a ballot between 20 and 14 days before the election. Voters will then have 4 days to complete and return the ballot either in person or through the mail in the required identification envelope, which voters are required to sign.

While voters can already request an absentee ballot and submit that by mail, they currently have to apply and provide a reason for the request. Under this bill, there will be no reason to have an absentee process as everyone will get a mail in ballot.

This bill will give voters an easier time voting at their leisure. It is safe to argue that voting by mail is much easier than in person voting, even with a 60 day early voting period, as Rep. Perryman’s other bill would require.