On March 21, 2016, the Oklahoma Election Board announced the Libertarian Party is now an officially recognized party in Oklahoma. It had been 16 years since that was the case. In the years between, Oklahoma has had only two Presidential candidates and two parties available for Oklahoma voters. This is a horrible injustice to the people of Oklahoma.
This announcement was possible thanks in part to the work of Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform a coalition of voters and candidates from all political ideologies with the common goal of expanding electoral freedom in Oklahoma. For 6 years, Zachary had taken a major leadership role in OBAR and lobbied tirelessly for reformation of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws. This culminated in a 2015 bill to lower the petition requirement to form a new party from 5% of the last vote cast to 3% of the last vote for Governor. This allowed the Libertarian party to successfully petition and gain recognition.
As a recognized party, the Libertarians will be able to run candidates for office with a Libertarian label next to their name as well as nominate a Presidential candidate in November, the first time in 16 years.
However, the work is not done. As a leader of the OBAR organization, Zachary continues to lobby for reformation of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws. This year, he is working to ensure that two important bills pass. SB896 will lower the vote test a recognized party must meet to retain access from the current 10% of the vote, one of the highest vote tests in the nation, to a more reasonable, but still high, 2.5% of the vote for President or Governor. SB1108 will remove the names of Presidential Electors from the ballot. That is not all that needs done. Zachary has authored a ballot access brief detailing many of the areas that Oklahoma needs reform.
Not all barriers to successful elections are at the state level, though. There are a number of federal laws that prevent valid competition and representation for voters in Oklahoma. Zachary will work to highlight those laws and reform them. For example, to better reflect the will and ideologies of the voters of the various states, Zachary proposes moving away from single member congressional districts and moving to a multi-member proportional district. Under this proposal, Oklahoma will have a single five-member district. Up to five candidates from each of the recognized parties, chosen in their respective primaries and any and all independents will appear on the November ballot and voters will choose up to five candidates they wish to vote for. When votes are tallied, the five candidates with the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, would be elected to represent Oklahoma in Congress. Under this proposal, gerrymandering will also be a thing of the past. Under this proposal, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation will more closely reflect the ideological makeup of Oklahoma’s voting population.
Another area that needs addressed is the Commission on Presidential Debates. For decades, this Republican and Democratic controlled organization has wielded too much power to control the presidential campaign narrative. Zachary proposes rules to reign in this power and mandate that all Presidential debates include all candidates on the ballot in enough states to theoretically win the majority of electoral college votes needed to win the election. If individual parties can hold successful primary debates with 10-12 people on the stage, the CPD can hold a debate with 4-5 people on stage.
Zachary will continue to work to expand election and voter freedom throughout Oklahoma and the US. By eliminating barriers for parties, candidates, and voters, we can build a better republic and a better nation for all people.
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