Earlier this week, the Joe Dorman campaign sent out a press release demanding more than a single debate from the Fallin campaign. In this press release, it is revealed that OSU, OETA and the League of Women Voters have teamed up to host the only debate in October.
Based on this, press release alone, it was unclear if the two Independent candidates, Richard Prawdzienski and Kimberly Willis, were going to attend, so I reached out to two of the hosts of the debate OETA and the League. I am still waiting to hear back from OETA but I have learned some troubling news from the League.
When asked if the Independent candidates were going to attend, this was the response.
The League, working with OETA and OSU, relied on available polling data to select the candidates for this televised debate. Our national organization’s best practices sets out the use of polling data as one of the tools for selecting candidates for inclusion in a forum or debate. We recognize the problem of independent candidates at times being excluded from polling.
You will notice that they do recognize the weakness in their decision to exclude half the candidates, yet they are unwilling to do anything about it. This despite the admission that they want fairer and equal access to ballots in Oklahoma.
A number of our LWVOK members are working to find ways to open ballot access to third party candidates. It is very difficult, as you probably know, to get a third party recognized in Oklahoma.
We will have to follow the guidelines that have been established for this debate, but would welcome your support in working to make it easier to get third parties certified in Oklahoma.
It is unfortunate that the League does not wish to do one of the most basic and simple things that could be done to this end and invite all ballot qualified candidates to the debate. Without access to the debates, the election is stacked against Independent candidates. If they cannot get to the debates, people don’t hear about them. If people don’t hear about them, they are excluded from polls. If they are excluded from polls, they are excluded from debates. It is a vicious cycle.
So with the failure to include either Independent candidate in recent polls and the use of such flawed polling to determine the debate attendees, this debate will be far from fair and balanced.
We will update you if we hear back from OETA.