Last Month, we wrote about how Oklahoma’s low voter turnout is good news for petitioners in 2016. Shortly after, the Oklahoman published an editorial that references that article, although without a link. In this editorial, the Oklahoman Editorial Board agrees that this is good news, but that the burden is still too high.
In talking about the failed petitions from this past election cycle, the Oklahoman states that voter turnout might have been higher had they made it to the ballot.
We termed this a “glimmer” of good news because it’s only that — a slight opening in the brick wall that prevents most initiative petitions and alternative candidacies from reaching the ballot. Imagine the increase in turnout had referenda involving school storm shelters and marijuana law liberalization made the 2014 ballot.
Instead, Oklahoma’s overly burdensome ballot access requirements helped limit the referenda list to three noncontroversial state questions that had been advanced by the Legislature rather than petition organizers.
They state that the signature burden and the limited time to gather those signatures needs reformed.
What is burdensome in Oklahoma is ballot access. Not only do initiative petitions require too many signatures, but the circulation period is limited to 90 days. More time is needed.
Finally, the note that 2016 could be the fourth election in a row without an alternative Presidential Candidate on the ballot.
Knight says that without access reform, 2016 will be the fourth consecutive presidential election in which no alternative party nominees will be on the Oklahoma ballot. Oklahoma is the only state in which a new or previously unqualified party needs support from more than 2 percent of votes cast in the previous general election.
If the threshold were 1 percent, the Libertarian Party’s next presidential nominee would make the 2016 ballot because a Libertarian candidate for governor this year got nearly 2 percent of the vote.
It is good news that Oklahoma largest newspaper has not turned its back on its 2012 editorial in which it called out Oklahoma’s harsh ballot access laws.