OKLAHOMANS for BALLOT ACCESS REFORM (OBAR)

 

 For Immediate Release             February 26, 2009

  Contact: Angelia O’Dell  918-510-8315                  Angelia@OkVoterChoice.org

 

Ballot Access Reform Bill Passes House Committee

 

House Bill 1072 passes the Oklahoma House Rules Committee today in a 10-2 vote.  This bill takes a small step toward easing Oklahoma ballot access laws, considered the most restrictive in the country. 

 

“Oklahoma was the only state where voters were limited to just two choices for president in 2004.  This then happened again in 2008.  Oklahoma sticks out like a sore thumb when it comes to our state’s ballot access laws. This bill would take a small step in the right direction,” said Angelia O’Dell, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma.

 

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.  This number was over TEN TIMES the per capita requirement of many neighboring states, including Texas, Missouri, and New Mexico. 

 

Under the change of HB 1072, the signature requirement would always be based on the gubernatorial turnout, often less than turnout for presidential elections.  Under this rule the requirement in 2006 would have been 51,780 signatures, based on the 2002 gubernatorial turnout, instead of the 73,188 shown in the chart below.  So for 2010, the bill would require about 46,000 signatures for a new party to be on the ballot in 2010, while the current law requires over 73,000 signatures.

 

Signature Requirements for 2005-06 Election Cycle

 

Ranking

 

State

Petitioning requirement for full party ballot access

Petitioning Requirement per million residents

1

Oklahoma

73,188

20,629

2

Texas

45,253

1,980

3

Kansas

16,477

6,003

4-tie

Missouri

10,000

1,724

4-tie

Arkansas

10,000

3,598

6

New Mexico

3,781

1,961

7-tie

Colorado

1,000*

214*

7-tie

Louisiana

1,000*

221*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Colorado and Louisiana require 1,000 to register under the new party’s affiliation for ballot access.

** Requirements from Ballot Access News, www.ballot-access.org

 

With its current language, HB 1072 would not address Oklahoma’s 5% requirement.  Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, recently wrote, “Oklahoma is the only state in the nation in which a party can't place its nominees for all statewide office on the general election ballot with the party label, unless it does a 5% petition.  All the other states have procedures at or below 2%, except that Alabama is 3% of the last gubernatorial vote.  Oklahoma is all alone in being above 3%.”

 

“Half of our state legislative races went unopposed in 2006.  To hold elected officials accountable, we need a process that engages Oklahoma citizens and allows them more choices.  Ballot access reform is one way to have more engaging and competitive races,” said Clark Duffe, Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) Chairman. 

 

In 2007, OBAR collected over 14,000 signatures for an initiative would return the number of signatures for recognition of political party back to 5,000, the number required in Oklahoma from 1924 until 1974. 

 

OBAR is a coalition of the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Parties and the Oklahoma Coalition of Independents, unified with the simple goal of making laws fair for new political parties.