For years, the Senate had been the primary roadblock to Ballot Access Reform. This year saw a shift from the Senate to a single member of the Oklahoma House, Speaker Shannon. I wrote a letter to the editor to NewsOK.com about his role in the death of this important reform and it was published earlier today. Here it is in it’s entirety. (This letter was also published, with some slightly different edits, at the Tulsa World)
Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon held true to his word — ballot access reform wasn’t a priority for him this year. Despite two bills being introduced this session, one in the House and one in the Senate, neither bill made it to the House floor for a vote. House Bill 2134, the bill that would have returned the petition requirement to form a new party to the 5,000-signature requirement of 1974, failed to reach the House floor. Despite passing the House Rules Committee, the Calendar Committee refused to hear the bill at the request of Shannon. This quickly killed the best opportunity for real reform in the state.
Senate Bill 668, which would have removed presidential elections from the signature calculations, also failed to reach the House floor. This would have had the benefit of stabilizing the signature requirement between elections. This bill passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, the Calendar Committee refused to hear the bill.
One must seriously question the priorities of Shannon if providing voters real election choices isn’t one of them. In the last three elections, Oklahoma voters have been the only ones in the United States to be denied more than two choices for president. Oklahoma voters need and want this reform. They’ve been asking for it for decades. If the Legislature and Shannon, specifically, are unwilling to make the change, the people will force it.
Again, We encourage all readers to write letters to both NewsOK and the Tulsa World as well as any local newspapers you read. The more we talk about this violation of voter rights, the better chance it has of passing.