Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Democratic Party informed the State Election Board that it will allow Independent voters to vote in its 2016 and 2017 primaries. The Libertarian and Green parties also stated intent to allow Independents to vote in their potential primaries if they got on the ballot. This left the Republican Party as the lone hold out.
The Republican Party has now made it official. Their’s will be the only primaries in which Independents will not be allowed to vote. They provided an official statement to the State Election Board stating as much.
The state GOP made it official Tuesday in a letter to the state’s Election Board secretary.
Party chairman Pam Pollard said the party believed that only Republicans should pick Republican candidates.
As we enter the coming election year, we will see how these choices will impact the election in Oklahoma.
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.