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.

Legislative Brief: The Case For Ballot Access Reform In Oklahoma

Oklahomans For Ballot Access Reform has published our Ballot Access Brief highlighting the evidence in favor of a number of reforms Oklahoma needs to make in order to bring about fair, free and equal elections.

In this brief, we present poll data and voting results which shows that voters throughout the US and in Oklahoma are falling out of favor with the two duopoly parties and wish to see a new party rise.

We then discuss the need and evidence in support of the following reforms:

  • Reducing or eliminating the petition signature requirement to form a new party
  • Extending the length of time a new party is recognized
  • Reducing the number of votes required to retain party recognition
  • Reducing or eliminating the petition signature requirement to place an Independent Presidential candidate on the ballot
  • Adding a write-in option to state election ballots
  • Repealing the straight-party voting option on state election ballots
  • Removing the names of Presidential Electors from the ballot

Finally we address the objections many people make when defending Oklahoma’s current harsh ballot access laws.

We feel that this brief will be an important tool in reforming Oklahoma’s laws and make it easier for citizens of Oklahoma to exercise their right to form and join any party of their choosing and vote for their favored candidates.

We ask that all of you read this brief and share it with your friends, family and most importantly your state Representative and Senator.

Read the brief, The Case For Ballot Access Reform In Oklahoma, below or download the pdf.

2014 Was A Good Year For Ballot Access Reform; 2015 Will Be Better

Last year, we posted our expectations for the 2014 with hope that great strides would be made for Ballot Access Reform and for Independents. Unfortunately, not all we had hoped to come to pass did, but we did see some major improvements.

First off, the biggest news to come of the year was the fact that 2014 was the first time in Reform history that the Senate and the House agreed on language for party ballot access. HB2134 made it through the house with a 2.5% petitioning requirement. That language was then taken up by the Senate, which actually kept it. Unfortunately, they made other changes that forced the bill to go to a Conference Committee, which promptly sat on it and it died.

Along with that, we gained a great ally in this fight. HB2134 was championed through the Legislature by Representative Jon Echols. He was instrumental in maintaining the 2.5% language throughout the whole process. He is really gungho about ballot access reform and is looking to introduce bills that reform party access as well as presidential petitions and initiative petitions. He is really excited about this and we are going to be working hard on this issue with him.

In other news, SB76, the bill that would have doubled candidate filing fees, was killed by the House. They thankfully recognized that it was a harmful bill and chose to let it die. Hopefully we will not see a repeat of that bill in 2015.

In unfortunate news, Oklahoma adopted the Ethics Commission’s proposed rules for campaign finance reform. To make it worse, the Legislature passed a bill that turned over all campaign finance rule making over to the Commission. This means that 2016 will be a difficult year for Independent candidates to raise as much money as their Republican and Democratic party competition. We would like to see this addressed in the coming session.

In more positive news, HB2134’s original author, Representative Jeff Hickman, was elected to the office of House Speaker. In addition to that, Rep Hickman created a new Ethics and Elections Committee that will be reviewing all bills in those regards. These events will most likely result in a friendlier climate for ballot access reform in 2015.

This year also saw more news organizations joining the fight for ballot access reform. The Tulsa World and News 9 posting positive news and editorials indicating the need for ballot access reform for both political parties and initiative petitions.

In addition to those news organizations, we also have a new ally in the Oklahoma Policy Institute. They have done a lot of work to highlight various policy problems in the state and they have jumped in with both feet in the fight to reform Oklahoma’s election laws including ballot access reform.

Finally, we did not see as many Independent Candidates running for office in the 2014 elections as we had hoped. We also saw record low voter turnout in this past election as well. However, there is good news to come from this. This low voter turn out means that party and initiative petitioners will need some of the lowest number of signatures in many decades.

With all this news, we are extremely positive about 2015. We feel confident that with our new allies in the media, policy watchdogs and in the Legislature this could be the year that the petitioning requirement for political parties will finally be reduced. While we may not get the 5,000 signatures we want and deserve, we will likely reduce it to something actually manageable.

So we wish you all a happy 2015 and we look forward to this being a great year for all supporters of free and equal elections.

Ballot Access Reform Has A New Ally In Oklahoma Policy Institute

Momentum is building for change in Oklahoma’ election laws. Every election in recent years has seen fewer voters than elections before it. Fewer people are running for office. We are stuck with the two party duopoly we have had for decades. However, every year more and more people join the fight to open up Oklahoma’s elections.

The latest ally in this fight is the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Yesterday, OKPI published their latest issue brief, Repairing Oklahoma’s Broken Democracy. In this brief, OKPI discusses the various problems stemming from Oklahoma’s laws such as low voter turnout, low voter registration, low number of candidates and more. They also propose a number of solutions that we at Oklahomans For Ballot  Access Reform can get behind.

These reforms include:

  • Voter Information Pamphlets
  • Online Voter Registration
  • Extended Mail-in Voting
  • Ballot Access Reform
  • Open Primaries
  • Instant Run-off Primaries

If you want to learn more, you can download the executive summary or the full brief. It is well worth the read and definitely something to share with your Representative and Senator in the Oklahoma Legislature.

In Which We Respond To Comments To Our Letter To The Editor

Over the weekend, we had a letter to the editor published to both NewsOK and at the Tulsa World. Both sites, published the letter with little modifications. The letter itself is mostly a rehash of our earlier article about Oklahoma’s low voter turnout and its impact on future petitions. It also called for real reform to pass.

However, there was one problem. I wanted to respond to a comment on the Tulsa World which I felt poorly reflected on the current petitioning climate. Tulsa World reader J. Lee wrote:

It appears that many people don’t really care what happens. But that is absolutely no reason to lower the party petitioning burden especially to what it was 40-50 years ago since the population has increased over a million since that time.

Any entity which lowers it standards to appease a few will eventually be left with no standards.

What J. Lee wrote here does a real disservice to those seeking to form a new party in Oklahoma. It is based on the false premise that Oklahoma’s petitioning laws and the change in 1974 was based on some actual reasoning based on population. That is not true at all.

The problem with this is that the Tulsa World’s commenting policy prevents me from responding to this comment directly. The Tulsa World wants me to pay nearly $200 just to comment on articles of interest. That is not happening. So instead, I am responding here in the hopes that interested people will read it and misinformation will be cleared away. If anyone out there has a subscription or still has commenting enabled because they have not reached their monthly ration of articles, feel free to respond to J. Lee with the following:

Let me lay out a few facts for you. I hope that I won’t have to explain any of this too much.

Population of Oklahoma:
1970 – 2,559,063
2010 – 3,751,351
Percent Changed – 46.6%

Voting Population of Oklahoma:
1972 Presidential Election (last election before new rules went into effect) – 1,057,396
2012 Presidential Election (most recent similar election) – 1,334,872
Percent Changed – 26.2%

1974 party petitioning requirement – 5,000 signatures or 0.47% of the 1972 vote
2014 party petitioning requirement – 66,744 or 5% of the vote cast in 2012
Percent Changed – 1,235%

If we wanted to adjust the number of signatures needed to form a new party based on population, then we would have this amount:
5,000 plus a 46.6% change = 7,330 signatures today.

However, if we base it off of voting population, we would get this number:
5,000 plus a 26.2% change = 6,310

Both of those calculations are far far smaller than the current signature requirement that is 1235% higher than it was in 1972.

So do you want to rethink your position?

Again, I would love to respond myself. When I aired my issues with the Tulsa World on Twitter, their only response was to upsell me on a subscription. They offered no real solution. I guess, if anyone wants a real conversation on a news site, they will have to go with NewsOK where all you need is a free account to read everything and comment to all articles.

Libertarian Party Ballot Access Gains Highlights Oklahoma’s Harsh Retention Test

In a blog post on the Libertarian Party’s website, the LP announces that it has gained or retained ballot access in 30 states across the nation. Among these states are almost all of Oklahoma’s neighbors Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Missouri. The only state missing is Arkansas. The Libertarian candidate for Governor of Arkansas, Frank Gilbert, received 1.92% of the vote which fell short of the 3% requirement. (Update: We mistakenly forgot Arkansas at the time of publishing.)

In addition to this news, this report highlights just how ridiculous Oklahoma’s ballot access retention test is. If a party manages to successfully petition to get on the ballot, a feat few parties are able to attain, in order to retain that access for a second election, the party would need to field a candidate for the top ticket, Governor or President, and earn 10% of the vote for that election.

This past governor’s election, there was one Independent candidate that is a member of the Libertarian Party, Richard Prawdzienski. He gained 1.1% of the vote, far below what would be required had the Libertarian Party had ballot access in Oklahoma. However, in many states across the nation, 1% is all that is needed to retain ballot access.

You can see by the LP’s blog post. They gained access in the following states that only require 1% of the vote Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Additionally, many states do not require a percentage of the vote on the top ticket. Several states have other requirements. For example, Idaho only requires a party to field 3 or more candidates in state or federal offices. Other states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia, require a percentage of votes cast for other seats or combination of seats.

Of the three states in which the the LP did not retain ballot access, all three have much easier retention rules than Oklahoma. Iowa requires only 2% of the vote cast for Governor, New York requires 50,000 votes, and Illinois requires 5% for Comptroller.

All this illustrates that reforming Oklahoma’s petitioning requirement is not enough. We also need to reform Oklahoma’s party retention test. Prior to 1974, the test was only 1% of the vote cast for Governor or President. We need to return to that as well. It would also be good to change the vote test to only be required every four years rather than every election.

If these rules could be changed, Oklahoma voters would have a far better election climate.

OETA Reports on Major Party Unwillingness to Share Elections With Alternative Parties

This past week, OETA ran a story on Oklahoma political parties and the fact that Oklahoma has no party alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties.

The report starts with a historical look at the shifts in party registration among voters and how the Republican Party and Independents have increased voter registration while Democrats have lost registrations.

The report then went to the heads of the Oklahoma Republican and Democratic parties for their opinions on ballot access reform and got them on the record stating their positions.

Republican Party Chair Paul Weston made it very clear that the Oklahoma Republican party is opposed to ballot access reform. He stated, “If you are going to be viable enough, then go organize enough people together to where you can organize as a party and get your candidates on the ballot.” When asked if the threshold to form a new party should be lowered, he responded, “I think they are just fine where they are.” Meaning, he is fine with ballot access laws that keep competition off the ballot.

While Democratic Party Executive Director Trav Robertson was more open to the idea, he did not specifically say if his party is for reform or against it. When asked, he responded, “We would meet with those individuals in the legislature who are forced or tasked with making that decision and let them know that we believe that everyone should have access to the ballot box and that everyone has a right in a democracy to be a candidate for office.” While that is a great ideal, it is not a clear statement on whether people should be able to form new political parties without unnecessary hurdles placed by the government.

The report does have one error near the end. It mentions that a bill was introduced in the last session to ease the ballot access requirement. The report states that the bill was not heard on the floor. This is incorrect. The bill was heard, but because the Senate versions and the House version differed, it was sent to a conference committee which never came to a compromise to send to the Governor.

As a treat, we have this report from 2006 with a similar report from OETA following the candidacy of J. M. Branum.

Looking Back At 2013 With Hope For A More Independent 2014

OK Voter Choice

2013 was a very good year. Not the year we would have hoped for, but pretty good nonetheless. What made this year so good? Well, lots of things.

For starters, this was the first year of full coverage of Ballot Access Reform issues and other election issues. Our website was pretty limited in previous years, dedicated almost entirely to advocacy for specific bills. While that was certainly noble and definitely needed, there are so many secondary issues and news that we need to cover as well. Additionally, this site went silent for the entirety of the 2011 and 2012 and we missed some very important updates during that time. So we are extremely happy with the ability to bring you up to date news on legislation, political opinion polls, statements by political leaders, and now even candidates for office. We look forward to doing even more in 2014 as we enter an election year.

This past year saw a number of election related bills filed and voted on. We watched what we considered some of the more important ones. Chief among these bills were HB2134 and SB668 which reduced the number of signatures needed to form a new party in Oklahoma. While HB2134 failed to move passed the Rules Committee, SB668 passed the Senate and passed the House Rules Committee. Only Speaker TW Shannon stood in the way of a House vote on either bill. Both bills still have a chance to be heard by the House in 2014. If SB668 gets a House vote with no amendments, it could become law. While it will not provide any real relief to alternative parties, it would be a positive step in the right direction. We would prefer if HB2134 would advance and that the Senate accept its language. After all, the evidence is in favor of real reform.

Another bill we watched with much apprehension was SB76 which doubled the filing fees to run for office. This bill was purely Republican driven and supported. It made it all the way through a Senate vote and a House sub committee vote. Thankfully it never reached a House vote. However, it could still come up for a vote this year and if passed, it could really harm the potential for real elections in 2016. We hope that the House continues to ignore this legislation in 2014.

Another issue we hope gets addressed properly in 2014 is that of campaign finance reform. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has announced proposed changes to this aspect of election law. While we support stripping away the language that penalizes married couples over single individuals, we have a hard time accepting Slater’s proposal to change the contribution limits. His proposal would create severely lopsided elections and specifically harm Independent candidates. This proposal combined with SB76 would pretty much guarantee an severe loss of real challenges in elections.

But 2013 wasn’t just about legislation and the nitty gritty of law. It was also about public opinion. This year saw a number of polls and other evidence that shows that the power of the two duopoly parties are waning. A Record number of people (60% of those polled) believe that we need a major third party. This dissatisfaction with the duopoly parties also reflects on people’s opinion of the current make up of Congress; people think they are doing a terrible job. Additionally, people feel that the Founding Fathers would be disappointed in the way the nation is today. We also saw record low voter turnout in the 2012 Presidential elections, placing Oklahoma as 49th in the nation. All these opinions seem to have resulted in more people in Oklahoma registering as Independent than either of the duopoly parties. We hope to see this trend continue in 2014. We would love to see Independent registration double.

Since 2014 is an election year, we have a number of things to look forward to. Earlier this year we lamented the fact that no one had risen up to challenge Mary Fallin for the office of Governor of Oklahoma. While we did not think that situation would remain, it was something that worried us. Luckily, we were not worried for long. We now know of three candidates and we have heard rumors of others as well. What makes these other candidates worth watching is their history with Ballot Access Reform. Mary Fallin has never taken a stated position on Ballot Access Reform. It was not in her policy statements, she never expressed support or opposition. But the other candidates for her seat have positive ballot access reform history.

The first to announce his intent to run for office is RJ Harris. He will be running as a Democrat and has already placed Ballot Access Reform as part of his mission. He knows the need for it as he has been an Independent and Libertarian for many years.

Next up is Representative Joe Dorman. Dorman will also be seeking the Democratic nomination. While he has not stated any specific support for Ballot Access Reform, he has voted for every Ballot Access Reform bill that came up for a vote in the House.

Then we have former Senator Randy Brogdon, seeking to challenge Fallin as the Republican nominee. While we missed the evidence of his support at first, we quickly found it. Senator Brogdon authored and sponsored legislation that would have greatly eased the burdens of alternative parties as they sought ballot access. This places him as a top contender in that regard.

With three of the current four candidates for governor supporting Ballot Access Reform in some way, we hope to make reform a major part of the campaign for governor in 2014.

Finally, we hope that 2014 will be the year that Independent candidates take a stand and run for office. In previous election years, Independent candidates were a rarity on the ballot. Most years, you could count the number of Independent candidates for state office on a single hand. With less than 40% of Legislative seats making it to a November election, there is plenty of room for Independents to make their voices heard. We went on record agreeing with Representative Mullin in stating that the 2014 elections is where our power lies. If we truly want to see Ballot Access Reform pass, we need to make it an issue at the ballot box. If those in power won’t allow us to run under the party label of our choosing, we need to stand and proudly declare our Independence and run as Independent candidates for office. There should never be an unchallenged seat for any office. As long as there  are, those in power will remain comfortable denying us our rights to freely assemble.

Most of all, we hope that 2014 is the year that Oklahoma chooses to stand firm by its constitution and lives by the creed that “All Elections Shall Be Free And Equal.”

Happy New Year everyone.

The Oklahoma Legislature Wants Your Input On Legislative Matters

Speakup Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Legislature Wants To Hear From You

A few years back, the Obama Administration create the White House Petition website in which citizens could introduce issues they would like to see the President address. Other people could then sign those petitions to add their support and ensure that the President responded to them. That site has become a valuable tool for allowing voters to express their desire for change in government, even if it has not had the desired effect of changing the President’s opinions on certain matters.

This month, the Oklahoma Legislature is following in that arena and has created its very own public forum for changing the direction of politics and public opinion in this very state. This site, Speakup Oklahoma, already has a lot of topics on it ranging from campaign finance reform, the pay of public employees, hemp and marijuana legalization, to school choice. So it is only proper for us to present our very own proposal for easing Oklahoma’s strict ballot access laws.

Currently, Oklahoma is one of the toughest states to form a new political party in the U.S. These laws have created a drought of ideas in our political landscape. We need to reduce the petition requirement for forming a new party from the current 5% of the last general election to the flat 5,000 signatures parties needed prior to the change in 1974.

We would like to see a massive outpouring of support for this proposal. Signing up for the site is incredibly easy. You can create an account using Facebook or fill out a simple form on the site. Once you do that, simply go to the Ballot Access Reform topic and vote for it simply by clicking the cote counter. If you feel inclined you can also leave a comment in support. I want to see this topic reach the top of the vote count pile. So, get on it.