On March 10, 2015, the Oklahoma House passed Speaker Hickman’s ballot access reform bill, HB2181, on a vote of 90-0. There were no abstaining members of the House, all members present voted in favor of the bill. This is the most support a ballot access bill has ever had in the Oklahoma House.
In 2014, HB2134 passed the House on a vote of 74-11. In 2011, HB1058 passed the House on a vote of 69-17. In 2009, HB1072 passed the House on a vote of 86-5. While all these bills passed the House, those that made it through the Senate ended up in Conference Committee where the bills died.
HB2181 would reduce the petitioning burden for new political parties by changing the current requirement of 5% of the last general election to 1% of the last election for Governor. This is a change from about 41,000 signatures to about 8,200 signatures. This reduction in signatures to form a new party will improve Oklahoma’s political climate as well as open the Oklahoma Presidential ballot to alternative candidates from parties that had been blocked from Oklahoma voters in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Now that HB2181 has passed the House, it has moved to the Senate where Senator Quinn will be working to get it through the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Floor. We are working to insure that this bill is not amended during this process as we need it to advance and pass this year. No previous bill has ever been able to survive the Senate without amendments, so we hope this one will be the first.
In order for this to happen, we need to put pressure on the Senate Rules Committee, particularly with the Committee Chair, Senator Justice, to pass this bill now and do so without amendment. We ask that if your Senator is on this committee that you call them and ask them to vote in favor of the bill as it stands. We also ask that you take time to call Senator Justice’s office and ask him to hear the bill now rather than wait.
The Senate Rules Committee has until April 9 to vote on the bill. However, the Rules Committee does not have regularly scheduled meetings. The Committee only meets when the Chair wants them to meet. That means if Senator Justice does not want to advance any bill, he can just avoid holding a meeting.
So again, we ask that you call your Senator if they are a member of the Rules Committee and also call Senator Justice and express your support for HB2181 and ask that it be heard in committee and passed to the Senate Floor.
If you would like to learn more about why this reform is needed and prepare yourself for potential questions about the bill, you can read our Ballot Access Brief.