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The Oklahoman Editorial
June 4, 2007
It ain't The Wall Street Journal, but a California newsletter has done for ballot access reform what the Journal has done for lawsuit reform. What Ballot Access News has done is expose Oklahoma as having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation.
Last month, the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a case challenging these laws. These include provisions that new political parties face extraordinary barriers in getting on the ballot.
While the Journal has repeatedly informed its national readership of Oklahoma's refusal to reform the civil lawsuit system, the newsletter is hammering at the restrictive access laws. A table in the June 1 edition, for example, puts Oklahoma as the worst state on the list of states according to the number of signatures needed to get a presidential contender on the 2008 ballot.
Ballot access reformers have sought help from the Legislature and the courts. Both avenues have proven dead ends, but the reformers aren't done. Help could come, the newsletter reports, from a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision in a New York case.
From 1924 to 1974, Oklahoma law required new parties to gather the signatures of 5,000 voters. The requirement was changed to 5 percent of the number voting in the previous election for governor or president. Based on the 2006 gubernatorial election, that threshold stands at about 46,000 names.
A trial court, the Court of Civil Appeals and now the state Supreme Court have rebuffed arguments from the Libertarian Party that this requirement is an unconstitutional setting aside of the guarantee of "free and equal" elections. The appellate court said the restriction discourages frivolity in elections by shutting out marginal groups and candidates. Unfortunately, our tort system does little to discourage frivolous lawsuits.
The Libertarians' lawsuit was anything but frivolous. Having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation is no badge of honor, just as having a "jackpot justice" system is not a recipe for success.
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Oklahoma City Daily Newspaper Finally Mentions Ballot Access Defeat
June 4th, 2007
The main story in the printed version of Ballot Access News, June 1, 2007 issue, was the failure of the Oklahoma ballot access case that had been filed in 2004 by the Libertarian Party. On May 14, the Oklahoma Supreme Court had refused to hear the case, even though the evidence showed that Oklahoma is the only state with presidential ballot access that is more difficult than a petition of 2% of the last vote cast. Also the evidence showed that Oklahoma voters in 2004 were the only voters who could not vote for president unless they voted for President Bush or Senator Kerry. One of the sad side-effects was that the Oklahoma mainstream media hadnít even mentioned the lawsuit outcome. However, the June 4, 2007 issue of The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma Cityís leading daily newspaper) does have an editorial, expressing disappointment that the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to hear the case. See it here. Thanks to D. Frank Robinson for this news.
Ballot Access News sent a copy of the June 1 printed issue to each Oklahoma legislator, and also e-mailed each Oklahoma state legislator (the individual e-mails were sent on June 3). However, the legislative session is over for this year. So far, one State Senator has replied that he does favor ballot access reform.
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