ON EVE OF PETITION DEADLINE, PARTY LEADERS WILL HIGHLIGHT URGENT NEED FOR BALLOT-ACCESS REFORM
OKLAHOMA CITY – With hands tied in protest, the GPOK will submit its petition signatures for party recognition to the Oklahoma Election Board at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Though short of the required 25,000 signatures, the party wants its petitions on record to exemplify the continued exclusion of alternative political parties from the democratic process in Oklahoma.
The official signature count will be available after the March 1 primaries.
“Our hands are tied,” said Rachel Jackson, state facilitator of the GPOK Cooperative Council. ”The current ballot access laws not only keep us off the ballot, they prevent us from building a party by making it impossible to register voters as Greens and run candidates. While last year’s reform measure was a great improvement, the law remains an unjust burden for fledgling new political parties in the state.”
The GPOK is following several reform measures making headway this legislative session. Senate Bill 896, authored by Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City), passed unanimously in the Senate Rules Committee and is now headed to the floor for a vote. SB 896 would lower the percentage of votes needed by candidates for governor or president to remain a recognized political party. As it stands, the bill would change the requirement from 10 percent to percent.
“We applaud these current efforts by our legislators to give Oklahoma voters more options on Election Day,” Jackson said.
Other groups, like the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform coalition, are also lending their support for such reforms.
“The truth is that ballot-access laws undermine the fundamental principles of democracy,” said OBAR spokesman Micah Gamino. “The theory that ballots will be overcrowded with candidates without them is a myth, when you look at the facts. The state requires only a filing fee to get on the ballot as an Independent candidate for all offices except for president, and crowded ballots and ‘spoiler’ candidates haven’t been a problem here. Oklahoma’s ballot restrictions target the right of citizens to form new political parties, for no other reason than to safeguard our artificial, Republicratic, two-party system.”
Future activities include the organization of training events for citizen lobbyists to support this year’s reform measures. The GPOK also plans to launch another petition drive immediately following the November election.