Several Legislators Want to Make Citizen Initiatives More Difficult

Over the last 10 years, Oklahoma citizens have used the state’s initiative process to bypass an unwilling legislature on certain issues. Some of these issues include medical marijuana, increasing school spending, criminal justice reform, and more. Not all of these measures pass a vote of the people, and many more fail to get the required signatures to make it to the ballot. But the fact remains that this right of Oklahoma citizens is enshrined into the state constitution.

This year, several state lawmakers have taken aim at making such citizen lead initiatives, and are seeking to have constitutional amendments passed that will make it nearly impossible for such initiatives to succeed in the future. These bills attack on two fronts.

The first is making it more difficult to even get initiatives on the ballot. There have been no less than 4 amendments to the state constitution changing how signatures must be gathered. In the Senate, SJR7 (Senator Roland Pederson), SJR8 (Senator Mark Allen), and SJR10 (Senator Kim David) have been introduced to change the number of signatures needed to per Congressional District, rather than statewide. This means that if people want a question on the ballot to amend the state constitution, they would need to gather 15% of votes cast in each of Oklahoma’s 5 Congressional districts. While it would be fairly simple to get 15% in Districts 1, 4, and 5 (Tulsa, Moore/Norman, and Oklahoma City, respectively) The other 2 districts cover more than half of the entire state of Oklahoma with few major population centers. This means that Congressional District 3, which covers most of Western Oklahoma, would have veto power on all petitions.

On the House side of this attack, HJR1002 (Representative David Hardin) is even worse. That proposed amendment would require signatures of 15% of voters in every single one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Under this amendment, any citizen initiative would fail as the man power to even reach out to some of the sparsely populated western counties would be overly burdensome.

The other attack front on these initiatives is making those that do reach the ballot have a higher hurdle to succeed. SJR4 (Senator John Haste) and SJR5 (Senator Zack Taylor) both propose amending the state constitution to change the percentage of the vote needed for an initiative to pass from a majority of votes to 60% of the vote. If this were in effect, few state questions in the last 10 years would have succeeded.

UPDATE: Another bill has been added to increase the vote needed for an initiative to pass. This bill, HJR1004 (Representative Scott Fetgatter) would increase the percentage of the vote needed from a majority to 2/3rds of the vote.

UPDATE 2: Representative Newton has introduced two measures, HJR1007 and HJR1008, that increase the vote required to pass a Constitutional Amendment to 55% of the vote. These measures do not change the vote for other initiatives.

These proposals are nothing more than certain legislators upset that they have been bypassed by the people. They are upset that citizens are proposing and passing laws and constitutional amendments that they personally disagree with. This is not about making the initiative process more fair, or even giving people a voice in them. It is about silencing people who disagree with the agenda of the State Legislature.

On the plus side, all these proposals would have to go to a vote of the people if they make it out of the Legislature. These legislators would have a hard time convincing a majority of Oklahomans to vote away their own rights.

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.

SB896 Signed Into Law By Governor Fallin

On Thursday, May 5, 2015, Governor Fallin signed SB896 into law. This law lowers the vote test needed for parties to retain recognition in Oklahoma. The previous requirement was 10% of the vote for President or Governor. Now, parties only need to gain 2.5% of the vote.

This year, the lower retention requirement will only really apply to the Libertarian Party, which successfully petitioned to gain recognition. However, if the Libertarian Party is successful in retaining its recognition, it will inspire other parties to attempt the petition.

With a lower petition requirement and a lower retention requirement, Oklahoma can see new parties arise and stay in place long enough to gain significant traction.

Yet, the work is not done yet. We still have a number of reforms we are fighting for, including lowering the petition requirement for independent presidential candidates, getting rid of straight party voting, and getting a write-in option in Oklahoma. We also feel that the petition and retention requirement for new parties is still too high.

Libertarian Party Of Oklahoma Has 676 Registrants

As of May 4, 2016 (PDF), The Libertarian Party of Oklahoma has 676 registered members in the state. Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, and Canadian counties make up the top 4 counties with 192, 126, 71, and 35 registrants respectively.

There are nine counties with registrations between 10-19 Libertarians. There are twenty-one counties with no Libertarians. The other 43 counties have Libertarian registrations in the single digits.

It is tough to make a one to one comparison between these numbers and the last time the Libertarian Party was officially recognized in 2000 as the Oklahoma Election Board did not keep registration records between the January 15 reports in 2000 and 2001. In January 2001, the Libertarian Party had 770 registered members.

Other statistics of note, the American Elect Party still has members but lost one since January, for a total of 12. Registrants for the Democrats, Republicans and Independents all gained in numbers. The Republican party gained the most registrations in the last 4 months.

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.

SB896 On Its Way To Governor Fallin

SB896 is on its way to the governor’s desk. If it is signed into law, and should be within the week, it will reduce the percentage of the vote a party needs to get in the Presidential and Governor races to stay recognized. Currently, parties need to win 10% of the vote to maintain recognition. SB896 lowers that to 2.5%.

Oklahoma’s current 10% requirement is one of the strictest in the nation. While the reduction to 2.5% is a sizable decrease, it is still higher than the average of the surrounding states. OBAR supports a further decrease to 1% and making party status valid for a total of 4 years instead of the current 2. That means a party need only meet the vote test every other election rather than every election. OBAR also supports including more statewide elections into the mix including but not limited to US Senate and statewide elected executive positions such as Lt Governor and State Superintendent.

SB1108 Signed Into Law, Removes Presidential Electors From The Ballot

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.

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.