Libertarian Party Leaped Another Ballot Access Hurdle Last Night

libertarian partyWhile Donald Trump took all 7 of Oklahoma’s Electoral College votes and the national election, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma posted a major victory of their own. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, posted a vote return of 5.74% and a total of 83,334 votes in the Oklahoma election. This election return means that the Libertarian Party beat the needed 2.5% of the vote to stay recognized as a political party in Oklahoma. This means that they will not have to petition to be recognized for the 2018 election.

Had the State Legislature not reduced the percentage of the vote necessary to retain party recognition, the Libertarian Party would have fallen far short of the previous 10%. We are glad to see that the lower threshold, although still not as low the 1% requirement prior to 1974, allows the Libertarian Party to focus the next two years on building their party. The only other party, aside from the Republican and Democratic parties, to meet the previous 10% vote test was the Reform Party in 1996 when Ross Perot won just over 10% of the vote.

With this victory for the Libertarian Party, it is unlikely that the Legislature will have much incentive or will to further reduce party petitioning or retention requirements. However, there are plenty of other ballot access reform measures that we will be focusing on. Chief among these is reducing the petition requirement for Independent Presidential candidates and Presidential candidates of unrecognized parties as well as provide for a fee in lieu of a petition. Both Jill Stein and Rocky De La Fuente are suing Oklahoma over the high presidential petition requirement.

We will continue to advocate for further changes to our election system.

Tulsa World Completely Ignores Gary Johnson In Its Refusal To Endorse A Presidential Candidate

johnson-weldOn Sunday, the editors of the Tulsa World published an editorial in which they highlight why they cannot support either Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump. It is a very detailed argument against both candidates and why the editors feel neither is qualified to be president.

Despite their unwillingness to support either of those candidates, the Tulsa World editors could not even summon enough courage to merely name Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. The closest thing they came to even acknowledging that there are other candidates is to say “Since 1940, the Tulsa World has consistently endorsed the Republican nominee for president, but we’re not willing to do that this time. Neither are we willing to endorse the Democratic candidate or any other candidate.”, emphasis mine.

They provide no reasons for not being willing to endorse the only alternative to the duopoly candidates in Oklahoma, nor do they even mention that he is an option for people who don’t want to vote for the duopoly. Why are they unwilling to even name Johnson? My best guess is that the Tulsa World simply lacks the creativity to imagine a world in which one or both of the major duopoly parties would fall out of favor.

The Tulsa World editorial staff has invested decades in the duopoly parties and as such they have conditioned themselves to be dependent on those parties to establish a political narrative in their minds and paper.

In reality though, their choice to not endorse either duopoly candidate is a tacit endorsement of Gary Johnson, even if they don’t want to specifically say so. By arguing that neither Clinton and Trump is qualified to be president, they are pointing people to look elsewhere. The only place for Oklahomans to look is toward Gary Johnson.

In a related note, the NewsOk editorial staff has already written off all 15 Libertarian candidates in Oklahoman. “In November, 15 Libertarian candidates will be on the ballot in legislative and congressional races. None is expected to win”. It is amazing to know that the duopoly parties are still managing to maintain so much control over these two papers. These editorials show that the duopoly parties are running scared. Even if the parties cannot secure endorsements from the papers, they have managed to ensure that the two largest media organizations in Oklahoma do not provide even an air of legitimacy to the Libertarian Party or any other alternative party. This means that the parties are worried about their continued survival.

Johnson/Weld Will Be Oklahoma’s Alternative Presidential Vote This Year

johnson-weldAs of Sunday, Oklahoma voters will have the option to pick between three candidates for President and Vice President. The Libertarian Party held its national convention this past weekend and they elected Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for President and Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld for Vice President. Both candidates took two ballots to elect, but both pulled a little over 49% of the vote on the first ballot.

This is great news for voters in Oklahoma and especially the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma. They spent a lot of time and money to get on the ballot this year and are excited for this news.

Congratulations to Governor Johnson and Governor Weld, the Libertarian Party’s candidates for President and Vice President of the United States!

You weren’t handed this victory on a silver platter, it wasn’t scripted or “made for TV”, and it definitely wasn’t easy, heck it wasn’t even pretty. Because of this the world got to see a legitimate and principled political process take place, and this is just one of the reasons why the Libertarian Party is the ONLY legitimate party on the ballot in 2016!

We are all looking forward to a presidential campaign that puts our party’s principles in the limelight and on the presidential debate stage. The momentum you will provide will cause the Libertarian message to be loud and clear in the main stream benefiting Libertarian races all over the country, and there’s no reason for us not to push it on into the White House from there!

According to recent news, Gary Johnson is already polling well against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In addition to that, the Co-Chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates has called for Gary Johnson’s inclusion in future polling.

We will keep you up to date on any future news.

UPDATE: Libertarian Party Will Have The Only Statewide Primary In Oklahoma

Candidate filings are closed, all challenges and withdrawals of candidacy have been completed and as it stands, the Libertarian Party will have the only statewide primary. Two Libertarians filed to run for US Senate and both stuck it out through the withdrawal and challenge phase. Libertarians Dax Ewbank and Robert Murphy will be vying for the Libertarian nomination to run against Incumbent Republican James Lankford and Democratic candidate Mike Workman. Edit: Also running for US Senate are Independents Sean Braddy and Mark Beard.

The Democratic Party almost had a statewide primary, but candidate Steve Perry withdrew his candidacy.

This means that all Libertarian and Independent voters throughout the state will be able to cast a vote in a primary election on June 28. While there will be some Democratic Primaries around the state that independents will be allowed to vote in, they will be sparse and only cover portions of the state.

All told, there are a total of 16 Libertarian candidates. One candidate Frank Robinson had his filing rejected due to non-payment of the fee and no petition. Robinson claims indigent status and will fight the refusal in court. Robinson would have filed to run for US Representative District 3. Another candidate, Paul Brewbaker had his filing challenged by Incumbent Republican Roger Ford of OK House District 95. Brewbaker, unable to pay the $250 bond to fight the challenge, lost. He will not appear on the November ballot.

15 of those 16 Libertarian Candidates will appear on the November ballot. Additionally, 20 Independents filed to run for office, more than has filed in over 10 years.

The Libertarian Party Now Qualified In Oklahoma

For the first time in 16 years, Oklahoma voters will have a real choice in the November elections. Today, the Oklahoma Election Board announced that the Libertarian Party met the petition requirement necessary for qualification.

In a press release sent today, the Libertarian Party celebrated this news while also lamenting the limited window for registering as a member of the party while also announcing the date of its State Convention.

Oklahoma law gives very little time for voters registered as Republican, Democrat, or Independent to re-register as Libertarian. The deadline for changing party affiliation is March 31, 2016. Those who re-register as Libertarians will be able to participate in the April 23rd Libertarian Party State Convention. (See details at

The deadline for first time voters to register in the Libertarian Party is June 3, 2016. All registered Libertarians and Independents will be able to cast votes for Libertarians in the June 28th statewide primary election.

However, if you want to run for office as a Libertarian, the Oklahoma Election Board will be accepting party affiliation changes for an additional five days after March 31. This is due to the overlap between the 15 days allotted by law to change parties if candidates wish to run under a newly qualified party and the April 1 cutoff date for party changes during primary season.

According to the Election Board, around 72% of the signatures gathered were deemed valid.

The Libertarians gathered 42,182 signatures. Of those, 30,517 were deemed valid. The minimum number needed to certify a new party was 24,745.

Finally, the Libertarian Party wishes to thank all those who made this effort possible.

The leadership of the OKLP would like to acknowledge all those who worked to bring another option to the voters of Oklahoma. A successful petition drive was just the beginning and now our focus will be reaching voters and candidates with the reality of looming deadlines.

To learn more about the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, you may visit the official website or their Facebook page.

Here is a link to the official press announcement from the Election Board.

The Green Party of Oklahoma also attempted a petition this year, but were unable to meet the required petition goal. This shows just how difficult Oklahoma’s reformed ballot access laws remain for grassroots parties.

Republican Party Says No To Independents In Primaries

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Democratic Party informed the State Election Board that it will allow Independent voters to vote in its 2016 and 2017 primaries. The Libertarian and Green parties also stated intent to allow Independents to vote in their potential primaries if they got on the ballot. This left the Republican Party as the lone hold out.

The Republican Party has now made it official. Their’s will be the only primaries in which Independents will not be allowed to vote. They provided an official statement to the State Election Board stating as much.

The state GOP made it official Tuesday in a letter to the state’s Election Board secretary.

Party chairman Pam Pollard said the party believed that only Republicans should pick Republican candidates.

As we enter the coming election year, we will see how these choices will impact the election in Oklahoma.

OETA Comments On Debate Rules Which Exclude Half The Candidates For Governor

Recently, we learned that Oklahoma’s only Governors debate was going to exclude the two Independent candidates for governor, Richard Prawzienski and Kimberly Willis. We reached out to the League of Women Voters and learned that they were not invited because they did not meet the criteria for debate inclusion. At the time, we had reached out to OETA, one of the other sponsors, seeking their comments. They have responded with their comments and the rules for inclusion.

In general, OETA Executive Director Dan Schiedel stated they were not included because they did not meet the guidelines set out in the rules.

At this time, it appears that Mr. Prawdzienski and Ms. Willis do not satisfy the criteria and therefore, neither candidate was invited to the Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for October 2, 2014 at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

He has also stated that if the situation changes between now and the debate, they could receive an invitation.

If factors change that allow Mr. Prawdzienski and/or Ms. Willis to satisfy the terms of the OETA Debate Criteria and Participation Policy (and criteria set forth by the debate partners) in advance of October 2 , we will re-evaluate the matter.

But what exactly are the rules regulating who get’s to be included? For that, Mr. Schiedel provided a link to those rules. So let’s take a look. Starting with the opening paragraph introducing the rules, emphasis mine:

OETA-The Oklahoma Network has a long tradition of encouraging statewide coverage of debates and other forums involving governmental leaders and candidates for elected office. We follow all rules and regulations mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. As far as debates and other similar forums (“the debates”), we must be sensitive to the number of participants. Therefore, OETA-The Oklahoma Network (“OETA”) reserves the right, in the public interest, to limit participants and the manner of the production in accordance with this OETA Debate Criteria and Participation Policy.

In this, OETA admits that the rules are designed to limit the number of participants in any debate they sponsor. Why? For the public interest of course. Exactly what that means is probably up to debate itself. One would think that the public interest would be better served by including all candidates for the office featured.

Let’s move on and look at how they determine which candidates are included.

To be considered for inclusion in OETA-produced and broadcast debates, the candidate must satisfy the following criteria:

Must be a legally qualified candidate that is qualified for a place on the ballot;

I don’t think that any reasonable person would think that Richard Prawdzienski or Kimberly Willis fail this requirement. They are both ballot qualified and will be on the ballot. So let’s see what else might be preventing their invitation.

When working with a debate “partner” or other organization integral to the presentation of the debate (“presentation organization”), the candidate must satisfy the criteria of the “partner” or “presentation organization”;

This rule grants any participating debate sponsor to block inclusion of a candidate for any reason. The sponsor doesn’t seem to be required to provide any justification, simply that they don’t want that candidate to appear. Why this is even a rule, is anyone’s guess. With three separate sponsors with their own agendas it would be easy for any one of them to simply say “We don’t want candidate X at the debate” and OETA would simply agree.

Must show at least 5% support in any available legitimate, professionally-conducted public opinion surveys (polls) by an independent political pollster

This next criteria is often the most sticking point for any debate. In this rule, the debate organizers are shifting the burden for exclusion onto a third party they have no control over. If that third party conducting the poll wishes to exclude any candidate, of which we have already shown they are, then the debate organizer can simply wash their hands of any blame. This particular rule is designed for the sole purpose of excluding any candidate that is not a member of the two duopoly parties as most professional pollsters only include duopoly party candidates in their polls.

Must have demonstrated a serious and responsible candidacy by taking certain actions necessary for the undertaking of a statewide or district campaign which shall be evaluated in their totality

Next is a set of rules that may seem objective but are simply a subjective means of determining the validity of any candidate. They are a set of rules that if any single point is not met, the candidate is deemed “not serious” and thus excluded from the debate. So what are these guidelines? There are quite a few, but I will list some of the most interesting ones.

Whether the candidate has organized and implemented a statewide or district-wide fundraising program and can demonstrate raising of campaign contributions of at least $10,000.00 exclusive of funding from the candidate’s own resources

Whether there is a campaign office, outside of the candidate’s home, and a campaign telephone number and e-mail address

Whether the candidate is preparing for or conducting statewide or district-wide media operations

Whether the candidate has been included in campaign coverage of other television news organizations

Whether the candidate has received more than incidental press coverage (e.g. identification as a candidate) in at least five (5) bona fide professional print, online, radio, television or cable television news stories

What is clear in this set of criteria is the continued reliance on third parties to effectively veto the inclusion of any candidates. While the first two I listed seem to be aimed at the work done by the candidate him/herself, The last two simply cede control over the debate roster to parties outside the control of the debate organizers.

If you look at these rules in totality, if a candidate is ballot qualified, raises significant sums of money, attends public events, distributes campaign literature, but is excluded from polls, ignored by the press, or any one of the debate organizers doesn’t like him or her, then they are excluded. In the end, these rules are designed from the onset to exclude Independent and alternative party candidates.

One final note, these rules were initially adopted in September of 2002. In that year, Independent Gary L. Richardson received just over 14% of the vote. Democrat Brad Henry eeked out a victory of less than 1 percentage point. I am merely speculating here but perhaps the strength of the Richardson campaign at the time was one of the primary drivers of this change. In comparison, the Commission for Presidential Debates revamped its rules in the wake of Ross Perot’s successful third party run for President that resulted in a victory for Bill Clinton over George Bush in 1992.

Despite all that and what these rules state, the exclusion of any candidate in a debate or forum for any office is a disservice to the voters of Oklahoma. By denying those candidates a spot at the debate, the organizers are denying the people of Oklahoma a fair, free and equal election.

We would recommend that everyone who reads this to contact OETA Executive Direct Dan Schiedel, the League of Women Voters and Oklahoma State University to demand that all candidates for Governor be invited to the debates regardless of these rules.

Oklahoma’s Only Governor Debate Excludes Half The Candidates

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.

Rasmussen Election Poll Shows Fallin At 45%, Fails To Name Both Independent Candidates

As the Oklahoma Governors Race hits full gear following Fallin’s primary win, Rasmussen held the first of many polls of potential voters. This poll found that Oklahomans are nearly evenly split between the two duopoly party candidates Mary Fallin and Joe Dorman. The poll found that 45% of potential voters favored Fallin while 40% favored Dorman. Of the remaining 15%, 7% favored “someone else” and the other 8% were still undecided.  This electoral favorability of Fallin is also reflected in the 49% of people who approve of the job she is doing in office.

However, this poll is troubling in one major sense. The poll neglected to mention either of the Independent candidates running for governor, Richard Prawdzienski and Kimberly Willis. The act of naming only the major party candidates is rampant through polling services across the country, so it really isn’t a surprise to see it happen here. However, this practice is detrimental to the campaigns of minor party and independent candidates.

Many debate organizers rely heavily on poll data to determine who should be invited to polls. In many debates, this results in only the two major party candidates being in attendance. Even if a poll does include all candidates, the debate organizers will often select only those polls that meet their desired results.

I have reached out to both Independent candidates for comments on this poll. While Kimberly Willis has yet to respond, Richard Prawdzienski had this to say.

A couple Republicans told me don’t waste my time running because I can’t beat Fallin. (Historically incumbents win, also because Oklahoma is a Red state and will vote Republican. One told me that Fallin will win with 68% of the vote, Fallin’s campaign has a million dollars, she can easily get more.) Anyways, I put my $1500 dollars down and am running against her. Win or lose my message will be heard. If I can prevent both the R or D from getting more than 49% my message would be heard around the nation.

If this poll is any indication, Prawdzienski is well on his way to prevent either candidate from winning with a majority of votes. The last time an Independent candidate ran for governor, Gary L. Richardson pulled 14.12% of the vote. The result was that Brad Henry (D) won the election with 43.27% of the vote and a margin of victory of 0.66% over Steve M. Largent (R).

We would hope that future polls would be more inclusive to all candidates in the various elections across the state. We have requested comment from the Rasmussen organizers and are awaiting a response.

Our Condolences To Voters In Single Candidate Districts

Now that the 2014 candidate filing period is over, we have a better idea of what the coming months of campaigning are going to be like. Unfortunately, things are not looking up for fans of political engagement.

One of the biggest points of worry is the vast number of seats that have no competition at all. Of course, not everyone feels this is a negative. The Tulsa World has published an editorial in which they applaud the vast number of seats that received no challenge during the filing period.

Filing for political office wrapped up Friday, meaning the campaign season has started.

Before things get too involved in that debate, we would like to take a minute to congratulate the candidates who have already won —— those who brought no opposition in the election.

Whether because their credibility with the public is so substantial, their political presence is so daunting or their opposition so disorganized, a lot of officeholders were guaranteed another term in office, which deserves public acknowledgement.

They close the editorial in much the same way.

But before that gets rolling, we congratulate the ones who have already won. Your willingness to lead the community and serve the people is laudable. You have our thanks and our best wishes.

But is this really something that is worthy of applause or congratulations? When we look at the numbers, we really don’t see anything worth congratulating.

Of the five US Congress seats, one received no competition. District 1 Rep. Jim Bridenstine will be able to take his seat in Washington with no real effort or challenge. On the state level, we have 8 uncontested Senate seats and 50 uncontested House seats. That is 46% of all state legislative seats.

When we add in the 4 Senate and 14 House seats that will be decided in Oklahoma’s closed partisan primaries. This means that 57% of Oklahoma’s legislative seats will be decided without the approval of the vast majority of their voters.

Is it really any wonder why Oklahoma has such low voter engagement?

On a more positive note, there are the three major statewide elections that will allow for a lot of civil engagement with voters. We have very active races for both US Senate seats and the Governor. All three races have candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties and from Independents.

But for all those voters in US Congressional District 1 and all those voters from the state legislative districts with no November election we express our condolences. We wish you the best in coming years. We know it must be difficult to not have any say in who represents you.