With the Libertarian Party now an officially recognized party in Oklahoma and more to come in the future, the ballots could become a crowded place if Oklahoma, one of only 5 states, continues to list all 7 Presidential Electors alongside the President and Vice President candidates they represent on the ballot. That has changed now that SB1108 passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed by Governor Fallin.
This November, when you go to the ballot, the only names that will appear at the top of the ticket will be the nominees for President and Vice President from the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties along with the any Independent or Unofficial Party candidates for President and Vice President, assuming they can actually meet Oklahoma’s still extremely harsh petitioning requirements for those ticket lines.
If voters wish to know who the Presidential Electors are, that information will be made available at the voting booth, but we at OBAR seriously doubt that information will be in high demand. So now, the only items that will seriously increase the length of the ballot will be the state questions which look to be increasing in number on a daily basis thanks to the State Legislature and not initiative petitions.
On Wednesday February 17, the Senate Rules Committee heard three election reform bills and passed them all unanimously. The two really important bills were SB896, the bill that lowers the party retention test from the current 10% of the vote to 2.5%, and SB1108, which removes the Straight Ticket device from the November ballots.
Both were heard and passed the committee. They now move to the full Senate, where they will hopefully be heard soon.
Also heard was SB1016 which removes party labels from voter registration forms. This bill also passed and moves on.
We will have more about all these bills going forward.
Oklahoma is one of only five states that still lists the electors for president on the ballot along with the candidates for president and vice president. There is no reason to list this information as voters do not vote on the electors, but rather on the candidate those electors have sworn to represent. While the information is something that should be documented and made available for those voters that want the information, most voters just don’t care.
After last year’s decrease in signatures for new party petitions, Oklahoma will see an increase in political parties, and thus candidates for President, on the ballot. With more candidates on the ballot, it is conceivable that a large portion of the ballot will be dedicated to something that most voters do not care about and is not needed. This will make the ballot confusing for many voters.
To fix this, Senator Justice has introduced SB1108 which removes the names of Presidential electors from the ballot and requires that those names be made available on printed material near the voting booths for those who want the information.
This is a good bill in that it solves one of the problems that make the ballot long and confusing. It also has a high likelihood of advancing this year as Senator Justice is the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee. We hope that the Senate and the House will pass this bill this year so that the elections will be cleaner and easier for Oklahoma voters.