Earlier in the session, HB2134 died in the House after the Calendar Committee refused to hear the bill and pass it to the floor. During that time, it was made known that Speaker Shannon did not want to hear ballot access reform at all. We had hoped that Speaker Shannon might have only wanted to not hear HB2134 specifically. We then put our hopes on the Senate Bill, SB668, that was not as good, but would pave the way for further real reform. Unfortunately, SB668, despite passing the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, failed to be heard by the House Calendar Committee. These actions show that Speaker Shannon refused to hear any ballot access reform bills.
It is unfortunate that such needed reform was blocked by a single person in the State Legislature. As I have pointed out many times, all the evidence points to the need for reform. Oklahoma has been the only state in the United States to deny its voters more than two choices for President in the last three elections. The election results for 2012 show that the confusion and spoiler arguments used to fight reform hold no weight. Ballot Access News showed that at least 20,000 voters were denied the opportunity to vote for Gary Johnson. With all that evidence showing the real harm of our current laws toward voters, and the lack of harm to the duopoly parties, supporting ballot access reform, why wasn’t it a priority?
With the death of SB668, Oklahoma voters are no closer to being able to choose the party and candidates of their choice. While the bills are dead for this year, they can be revived next year. However, even if one of them were to pass and signed into law, it would be too late for new parties to form before the Governor elections. But that should not stop us. Getting real reform, as found in HB2134, passed in 2014 will open the door wide for the 2016 election. That would be a valuable change for Oklahoma voters.
So what should we do? We need to raise further awareness of the issue. We need more letters to the editors, more letters and calls to State Legislators. Write your Representative and Senator. Write the Governor. Demand that they bring ballot access reform to Oklahoma voters. More importantly, tell your friends and family about the need for reform. We will continue to bring you the latest news and updates on this important topic.