Category: ‘Voter Rights’

Pirate Party Endorsement

October 4, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Today, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma has released their list of candidate endorsements. Out of all people running for office this year, only 26 were willing to respond to their request. Of those 26, only 4 responded with sufficient support for openness in our government to warrant an endorsement.

Zachary Knight is one of those 4.

As a bit of background for the Pirate Party, their “About Us” page describes their platform as follows:

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma is a new political party with the goal of promoting the Privacy Rights of Oklahomans, push for increased Government Transparency, advocate for Ballot Access Reform, and encourage reform of Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks. We are a member of the United States Pirate Party and are also associated with Pirate Parties International. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma was formed in January of 2010 with the signing of our Constitution.

As for their endorsement, this came based on my responses to a number of questions. These questions ranged from Open Access to government, protection from unwarranted wire tapping and searches and Ballot Access Reform. I have included a few examples below.

This is an endorsement I fully accept and encourage all to read the responses of those who are available on the Pirate Party site and see exactly how these issues affect you as a citizen of this state and nation.

On the issue of automated traffic monitoring systems, ie speed, red-light cameras, and other automated systems for identifying traffic violations:

I lived in Arizona for several years and experienced the automated speed and red light cameras. While I am sure those systems brought in quite a bit of revenue for the contractors who operated them, but not so much for the police departments. What is really worrisome about such systems is their inability to make judgment calls and read context of individual situations. The state should avoid such situations as they would bring on additional burden on the people while not increasing revenue for our underfunded police departments.
On laws preventing citizens from recording on-duty police officers:
Oklahoma is a one party consent state, meaning that only one side of a conversation being recorded whether in audio or video is required to consent to the recording. Any attempt to change those laws would violate our rights and a needed protection for the people. Our police force are public servants and they should be accountable to the people they serve. Retaining our one party consent status would allow the people to protect themselves from corruption and abuse.
On requiring the state legislature to comply with the Open Records Act:
All city, county and school government and agencies are required to comply with the open records act. There is not reason why our Legislative branch should not be held to the exact same standard. In order to hold our legislative members accountable, we need to have an open and accurate record of what they are doing in office. I can see a need to protect correspondence with individuals of a legislator’s constituency, but any correspondence with registered lobbyists, state agencies and other legislators should be open to public scrutiny.
Finally, on Ballot Access Reform:
As an independent, I am affected directly by Oklahoma’s current Ballot Access laws. I have come to realize that yes they are the most restrictive and there is no reason to keep them as is, other than reducing competition for incumbent parties. When elected, I plan on working with other legislators in writing and passing sweeping reform in the state. This will include reducing the required number of signatures to [5000] as it was prior to 1974 and changing ballot access laws to remove language that writes the incumbent parties into law.
To read the full list of questions and Zachary’s responses, you can follow this link.

State Question No. 746: A License to Vote

September 27, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

State Question 746 seeks to create a identification requirement in order to vote in an election. The Language is as follows:

This measure amends statutes relating to voting requirements.  It requires that each person appearing to vote present a document proving their identity.  The document must meet the following requirements.  It must have the name and photograph of the voter.  It must have been issued by the federal, state or tribal government. It must have an expiration date that is after the date of the election.  No expiration date would be required on certain identity cards issued to persons 65 years of age or older.

In lieu of such a document, voters could present voter identification cards issued by the County Election Board.

A person who cannot or does not present the required identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot.  Swearing to a false statement would be a felony.

These proof of identity requirements also apply to in-person absentee voting.  If adopted by the people, the measure would become effective July 1, 2011.

The US and State Constitutions guarantee the people the right to vote. This question would essentially force the people to pay for a license to exercise their Constitutional right. We would not stand idly by if were were forced to get a license to exercise our rights to Free Speech, Religion and Assembly. Why should we be willing to be forced to obtain a license to vote?

Additionally, I feel that this is a solution in search of a problem. There has been no documented case of voter fraud that this question would prevent. On top of the lack of an actual problem, this question would put an undue burden on people who do not normally carry identification. These people who tend to be elderly or poor would be less likely to vote if this requirement went into effect.

Vote No on SQ 746

State Question No. 750: Petitioning Our Government

September 27, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

State Question 750 changes the number of signatures needed to fill a petition. The language is below:

This measure amends a section of the State Constitution.  The section deals with initiative petitions.  It also deals with referendum petitions.  It deals with how many signatures are required on such petitions.  It changes that requirement.

“Initiative” is the right to propose laws and constitutional amendments.  “Referendum” is the right to reject a law passed by the Legislature.

The following voter signature requirements apply.

8% must sign to propose a law.

15% must sign to propose to change the State Constitution.

5% must sign to order a referendum.

These percentages are based upon the State office receiving the most total votes at the last General Election. The measure changes this basis.  The measure’s basis uses every other General Election.  General Elections are held every two years.  The Governor is on the ballot every four years.  The measure’s basis only uses General Elections with the Governor on the ballot.

The President is on the ballot in intervening General Elections.  The measure’s basis does not use General Elections with the President on the ballot.

More votes are usually cast at Presidential General Elections.  Thus, the measure would generally have a lowering effect on the number of required signatures.

I support this ballot measure as it provides greater power and ability to the people of Oklahoma to enact changes that an unwilling legislature will not.

Additionally by basing the required signatures on only Gubernatorial elections, the number of signatures will remain more constant over time as we will no longer be using Presidential elections when more people tend to vote.

Vote Yes on SQ 750

State Question No. 748: A State Divided

September 1, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Every 10 years the Federal Government holds a nation wide census. This census is done to count the number of people living in the nation. This counting greatly affects many aspects of not only the Federal Government but also our State Governments.

One of the biggest effects had by the census is in our representation in both the State and Federal government. The census determines how many Representatives each state has in the Federal government. Oklahoma currently has 5. This number is not expected to change, but if it does, the census will let us know.

The state also has an opportunity to redraw our State and Federal Representative districts the year following a census. That will be happening this coming 2011 Session, but with a potential change. On the November Election Ballot, the voters will be asked a question that changes the way the commission assigned to redrawing the districts is formed. The text is as follows:

This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.  These provisionsdeal with how the Legislature is divided into districts.  This process is known as apportionment.  The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census.  If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so.  The measure changes the name of this Commission.  It removes all three existing Commission members.  It removes the Attorney General.  It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  It also removes the State Treasurer.

The measure increases the number of members from three to seven.  The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.

The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a nonvoting member.  It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission.

The proposed change will change the way members are added in a supposed “bi-partisan” way. This will include 3 representatives of the Republican Party and 3 representatives of the Democratic Party. This sounds good on the surface, but there a couple of big issues. Why are there no representatives of the over 300 thousand registered Independents in this state? Additionally, this language would exclude any new parties that form in this state.

As a supporter of voter freedom and Ballot Access Reform, I cannot support any effort to write any political party into our state constitution. The language of this amendment flies in the face of what I hold a supreme right of the people of this state. What will happen when one of these parties fails and is no longer recognized in this state (not that that will happen since both the Democratic and Republican Parties are written into our election laws, but that is a topic for another article)? The people will once again have to amend the State Constitution to account for that change.

With all that in mind, I will be voting no on this measure and I recommend that all people do the same.

All elections shall be free and equal.

July 18, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

“All elections shall be free and equal.” – Oklahoma Constitution, Section III-5

Those words are found in our state’s constitution. Yet, our state legislature is not living up to that standard.

I am running as an Independent in the race. This is because I do not agree with the Republican or Democratic party enough to ally myself with either of them. Part of this is because of what happened in 1974.

In 1974, the Legislative branch of Oklahoma decided they did not want competition in the Gubernatorial or Presidential elections from any person that was not a Republican or Democrat. They decided that they did not want any other parties rising up in Oklahoma to throw them out.

So they did what any fearful legislative body would do. They changed the laws to suit their own ends. They did this in two ways: First they wrote themselves into law. Second they put up extreme barriers for any other party.

Let’s think about that first one. They wrote themselves into law. Prior to 1974, Oklahoma recognized any party that met the state’s guidelines on membership and election status. After 1974, Oklahoma recognized any party that met the new higher threshold of membership and election status and those parties that were on the ballot in 1974. (Section 26-1-107 of Oklahoma Statutes) So what parties were on the ballot in 1974? The Democratic and Republican Parties. You heard that right. Those two parties will always be on the ballot even if they do not meet the requirements that other parties are subject.

Now for the second issue, the barriers on other parties. Prior to 1974, Oklahoma only required 5,000 signatures to organize a new party. From 1924 to 1974 the most parties on any one ballot was four. In 1974 the legislature changed that requirement to 5% of the total votes cast in the last General Election (either Gubernatorial or Presidential)(Section 26-1-108 of Oklahoma Statutes). How many is that? For a Political party to be organized for the coming Gubernatorial election it would have been 73,000. That is a really high jump from 5,000. In order to retain party status in Oklahoma, a Political party would have to have a minimum of 10% of the vote in the last General Election.(Section 26-1-109 of Oklahoma Statutes) This is up from the 1% required prior to 1974.

So were the members of the 1974 legislative branch afraid that they would not be able to get 5,000 people to support their respective parties? Were they afraid that they would fail to get 1% of the vote in a future election? Or were they just afraid that you the people would exercise your rights to elect those who truly represent your ideals and values?

This past Legislative session, a bill was introduced that would have reverted our ballot access laws to their prior 1974 status. This bill had passed the House and the Senate, but due to language differences, they had to be reconciled. A committee was formed to reconcile these differences in February and they just sat on it. This committee of a handful of legislative members decided that giving people a voice and a choice in our elections was not important enough to deal with.

My opponent, Scott Martin, was on that committee.

When I am elected as State Representative, I will reintroduce this bill and fight to give you a voice and a choice in our elections. I will not allow for any person or committee to block your constitutional right to have a free and equal election.