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Thousands of Ballot Access Reform Petitions Submitted
For Immediate Release January 14th, 2008
Contact: Joni LeViness 918-296-5057 joni@OkVoterChoice.org
Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform (OBAR) completed its 90 day initiative petition drive today by turning in about 14,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. This was below the 74,117 signatures required, but it demonstrates strong support for expanding the number of choices on the ballot. Oklahoma's restrictive ballot laws resulted in it being the only state limited to just two choices for president in 2004.
"We know Oklahoma voters are ready for more choices. Oklahoma Democrats easily chose from nine presidential candidates in 2004, and Oklahoma Republicans will have eleven choices on Super Tuesday. Because of gerrymandered districts, half of state legislative races had only one candidate in the general election in 2006. Shouldn't Oklahoma voters have at least two or more choices?" said Joni LeViness, OBAR Chair.
"We collected signatures right when of fears were spread about citizen initiatives, resulting in many citizens feeling reluctant to sign any petition. This hostile climate emerged from charges brought against organizers of a previous petition. It appears that those vested in the current system fear the initiative process, regardless of the issue. Initiative petitions allows normal citizens like us to potentially have a large impact." said Jimmy Cook, OBAR Vice Chairman.
OBAR now hopes to use its resources to persuade the legislature to improve the laws by hearing already introduced reform legislation.
"With four ballot access bills introduced in the legislature over the past decade, we wanted to give Oklahoma citizens a chance to voice their opinion on restricted voter choice through the initiative process. We hope the legislature will respond to the wishes of 14,000 Oklahomans who signed our petition, and give House Bill 1359 and Senate Bill 28 a committee hearing and an up or down vote." said Joni LeViness.
To form a new political party, Oklahoma law currently requires signatures equal to 5% of the last presidential or gubernatorial vote, which meant over 73,000 signatures for 2006. The ballot access reform initiative would have returned the number of signatures for recognition of political party back to 5,000; the number required in Oklahoma from 1924 until 1974. This would have made Oklahoma the 30th state to require 5,000 or fewer signatures for a new political party or independent presidential candidate.
The Secretary of State is expected to conduct the official count of signatures on January 28th.
OBAR is a coalition of the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Parties and the Oklahoma Coalition of Independents, unified with the goal of supporting fair laws for new political parties.
Click here to find out how you can join the campaign for FAIR and DEMOCRATIC ballot acccess laws.