Oklahoma Greens meet in Stroud for 2007 annual meeting

Meeting in the middle of the state at the legendary Rock Cafe on historic Route 66, the Green Party of Oklahoma’s held its annual meeting for 2007. Members of the party’s coordinating council discussed a number of issues, but the current ballot access petition drive was the primary consideration. Special guest at the meeting was Sean Hough, a Libertarian who is in the state courtesy of the national Libertarian Party, and who is assisting Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform, the coalition group that is conducting the drive.

Read the minutes from the 10/21/2007 GPOK Annual Meeting.

The next meeting of the Coordinating Council, to which any Green or interested person is welcome, will be following the Peace Fest in Oklahoma City on Nov. 11.

OK Greens meet at the Rock Cafe in Stroud
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Ballot Access Petition Filed with Secretary of State

Joni LeViness, GPOK representative to OBAR

Joni LeViness, OK Green and secretary of Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform (OBAR) speaks at a press conference announcing the group’s petition campaign to bring the question to Oklahoma voters next year.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform (OBAR) filed today to circulate an initiative petition to put a question on the 2008 ballot. The initiative seeks to reform Oklahoma’s ballot access laws, considered the most restrictive in the country.

“It is time to hear what Oklahoma voters think about our state’s biased electoral system,” said OBAR Chairman Matthew R. Jones. “With half of our state legislative races unopposed last November, we believe Oklahomans will support more voter choice.”

“OBAR is about giving people a voice again,” said Joni LeViness, member and OBAR secretary. “With more voices in Oklahoma politics, comes the chance that voters will hear about issues relating to them. OBAR’s not so much about giving political parties a voice as it is about getting people involved in what’s supposed to be a democracy. I expect we’ll see a broad range of support!”

OBAR will collect approximately 90,000 signatures over the next 90 days, and plans to integrate petitioning with an awareness campaign, including T-shirts for petition circulators and information cards for signatories.

“Although our effort is receiving nationwide attention, our petitioning will rely heavily on our members volunteering. This is a real grassroots effort,” said Jones.

Jimmy Cook, OBAR Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, believes that the citizens’ movement will be well-received. “I’m surprised that this hasn’t been tried before, considering the positive things I’ve heard from people about the proposal,” he said. “Oklahomans are tired of having politicians dictate who they can and can not vote for. This petition would give voters the ability to choose.”

To form a new political party, Oklahoma law currently requires signatures equal to five percent of the last presidential or gubernatorial vote, which meant over 73,000 signatures for 2006. This number was 10 times the per capita requirement of many neighboring states, including Texas, Missouri, and New Mexico.

The initiative would return the number of signatures for recognition of political party back to 5000, the number required in Oklahoma from 1924 until 1974. This would make Oklahoma the 30th state to require 5000 or fewer signatures for a new political party or independent presidential candidate. The initiative would also make the requirements more reasonable for a party to demonstrate support and stay on the ballot.

“To hold elected officials accountable, we need a process that engages Oklahoma citizens,” said Clark Duffe, Chairman of Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES). “Ballot access reform is part of OKIES’ larger goal of having more competitive races.”

“Oklahoma was the only state where voters were limited to just two choices for president in 2004,” said Jones. “Even though the winner-take-all system tends toward two parties, we believe Oklahomans voters deserve more choices.”

Support for ballot access reform has come from varied, and even unexpected sources recently. The Oklahoman has published editorials endorsing the idea. The 2007 Oklahoma Republican Party platform states: “We support less restrictive ballot access for all political parties and candidates.”

Similar ballot access questions have passed in Florida and Massachusetts.

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. Visit OBAR Web site

Daily Oklahoma editorial in favor of ballot access

March 21, 2007, Daily Oklahoman Editorial says:

Libertarians aren’t deterred by their recent court loss. They’re headed next to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. We applaud them for their perseverance and wish them well in their pursuit.

Source: http://www.newsok.com/article/3029459/

This refers to Oklahoma’s restrictive ballot access law that the Libertarian Party is challanging. For more info:
http://oklp.org/ballot.html and http://www.oklp.org/obar/index.html

Oklahoma ballot access reform bills introduced in both state House and Senate

An important message from Richard Prawdzinsky of the Libertarian Party, our compatriots in achieving ballot access reform in Oklahoma.

It’s official. Both House and Senate introduce a bill to reform Oklahoma Ballot Access. However, for these two bill to move foraward we need help
SB28 – Sen. Randy Brogdon, Owasso
HB1359 – Rep Marian Cooksey, Edmond

How much support can we get? In the past when I asked legislators if they would support the bill, many responded, “I will look at the bill when it comes out of committee.” This was not good enough because the bill never came out of committee. New approach. Ask your legislator if he/she would co-author the bill. This gets instance answer.

For 3rd reading of measures in house of origin Thursday, March 15, 2007 — Which means we have only a short time to make things happen.

Ballot access LTE in the Edmond Sun

OK Greens Co-Chair James Branum had a letter to the editor published in the Edmund Sun:

Cooksey’s bill would make state elections more open

Every year at the ballot box we all face tough decisions, but in the end we are in the voting booth alone with our conscience and our judgment. It is in that voting booth that we are able to express our own viewpoint without fear. It is in the voting booth that every voice should be heard.

Last November I was denied the right to vote for the candidate of my choice.

For myself as Mennonite and a believer in Jesus’ message of peace, I wanted to vote for a Presidential candidate who would bring an end to the war in Iraq.

But instead I was given only two choices – Bush and Kerry, who both were strong defenders of the war. If I had lived in another state, I could have voted my conscience. In fact in every other state of the union, there would have been at least one other choice for President on the ballot. However, since Oklahoma doesn’t have democratic election laws, we get only two choices.

It is time to change the law. HB 1429 (introduced by St. Rep. Marian Cooksey R-Edmond and St. Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Tulsa) would restore democracy to our state by lowering the petitioning requirement for new political parties from 70,000+ signatures to 5,000 (the state’s requirement from 1924-1974).

Democracy means that you get to vote for the candidate of your own choice. If you think it is time that we have this right in Oklahoma, please call you state legislator and ask them to support HB 1429.

For more information on this issue please go to http://www.okballotchoice.org

James M. Branum
Oklahoma City