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.