Why was Oklahoma ballot access made so restrictive?
In 1968 the American Independent candidate received 20.3% of the Oklahoma vote. Concerned state politicians voted to restrict third party access in 1974, perhaps fearing the results of weak Democratic support in 1976 (George McGovern, ended up with only 24% of the Oklahoma vote). See the 1976 court case when American Party presidential candidate, Thomas Anderson,challenged Oklahoma’s laws, which were tailored to keep Oklahomans from exercising voter choice.
The following bills were introduced in years prior to our current reporting. Most went down without even a committee hearing, but since 2007, we have seen strong pushes to get the bills heard.
- HB1058 (Introduced in 2011) – This bill was introduced to reduce the signature requirement from 5% to 5,000. It was amended before both the House and Senate votes. The House amended it to 22,500 signatures. The Senate amended it to 5% of the last Gubernatorial vote. Due to differing language, it went a conference committee. The House side of the committee made its recommendations, but the Senate side never reviewed it.
- HB1072 (Introduced in 2009) – This bill was introduced to reduce the signature requirement from 5% to 5,000. It was amended before both the House and Senate votes. The House amended it to 5% of the last Gubernatorial vote. The Senate amended it to 3% of the last Gubernatorial vote. Due to differing language, it went a conference committee which failed to find a compromise between the two versions.
- 2007 Initiative Petition Collects Over 14,000 Signatures – This petition would have put to a vote of the people the language allowing for a new party to form after filing a petition of 5,000 signatures.
- SB 28/HB 1359 (introduced in 2007) – Both bills continued with the language of the previous two bills. Neither bill was heard in committee.
- HB 1429 (introduced in 2005) – This bill reintroduced everything contained in the 2002 legislation. Was never heard in committee.
- HB 2654 (introduced in 2002) – The text of this bill contained a whole host of changes we advocate for. Not only did it reduce the number of signatures required to form a new party to 5,000, it also reduced the vote test to 1%, increased the time a party is recognized from 2 years to 4, reduced the number of signatures needed to get an Independent Presidential candidate on the ballot to 5,000 signatures, and provided a fee of $5,000 instead of a petition for President. Was never heard in committee.
- HB 1742 (1999) – According to an old Ballot Access News report, this bill would have reduced the current 5% requirement t0 10,000 signatures. Was never heard in committee.