It took a while, but the Senate Rules Committee has finally voted on HB2134. The bill passed on a vote of 16-1 with Senator Rob Johnson as the sole no vote.
In a brief series of questions, Senator Connie Johnson asked what the intent of the legislation was, to which Senator Marlatt responded that it was to make it easier to form a new political party. In a follow up question, Sen. Connie Johnson asked Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax which parties have tried to form.
In response to this question Ziriax stated that no parties had filed intent to form this year. This is not surprising as the petition requirement would be based on the 2012 Presidential election which forces a higher number of needed signatures. He followed that by stating that in 2012 two parties filed intent to form. The first was the Americans Elect party which gathered enough valid signatures but did not field any candidates. The other was the Libertarian Party which did not gain enough signatures to form. Ziriax expressed that had HB2134 been law at that time, he believed they could have qualified with the signatures they did submit.
It is unclear why Senator Rob Johnson voted against the bill. Our best guess is that since he is the author of SB668, which kept the 5% requirement but removed the presidential elections from the calculation, he felt that his bill should be the one to become law. This is mere speculation as we have not received a response from him as of yet.
Unfortunately for us, the bill had both its title and enacting clause stricken before the vote. This move ensures that if the title and enacting clause is not restored before a Senate vote, the bill will be forced to go to a conference committee. This is unfortunate as the conference committee is where several previous bills had died. It is our hope that this will not be the case. We ask that you contact your Senator and asked them to not just vote for HB2134 but also ask them to support restoring its title and enacting clause.