The Conference Committee assigned to HB2134 has submitted its recommended version of HB2134, the ballot access bill. This bill had gone to a conference committee after the Senate greatly amended the bill and the House rejected those amendments. The main problem Rep. Echols and other House members had was the potential for a single subject rule based lawsuit over the Senate version.
In this new version of HB2134, the Conference Committee recommends that the party qualification petition language be stripped from the bill and leaves in tact most of the changes to the Presidential petitions for Independent and unqualified party candidates. However, the bill goes a further than the Senate version by further reducing the signature requirements to 1.5% rather than the Senate’s 2.5%. It also leaves in tact the current deadlines rather than the Senate’s reduced deadlines.
Overall, this would be a positive change. Instead of the little over 40,000 signatures needed under current law to get an Independent presidential candidate on the ballot, a little over 20,000 would be all that is needed. According to Ballot Access News, this removes Oklahoma from the worst presidential ballot access space it currently holds. With this change, it is far more likely that Oklahoma would have more than 2 candidates on the 2016 ballot even if no new parties gain recognition in the state.
As of now, the proposal does not appear to have the approval of the Senate side of the Conference Committee. That side is comprised of Senator Marlatt and a few others. With only one week left in the Legislative Session, it is imperative that we convince Senator Marlatt and the rest of the Conference Committee to act on this proposal.