Posts Tagged: ‘Ballot Access’

Third Presidential Election In A Row With Two Choices; A Horrible Injustice

September 21, 2012 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

This is the latest letter I have sent to the Daily Oklahoman regarding ballot access in Oklahoma. I like to post both my original unedited letter and a link and quote of how the newspaper edited it. They don’t usually do a hack job, so I don’t generally worry.

In response to the article “Third party won’t be on Oklahoma’s November ballot” (September 14, 2012), this is a horrible injustice to the people of this fine state. For the 3rd presidential election in a row, Oklahoma will be the only state in the nation limited to two choices for President. The only state in the nation to deny its voters the right to cast their vote for the person the voter believes to be the best qualified for the role of president.

When will the people of this state stand up to the two party tyranny of the dominate parties? For over ten years, supporters of ballot access reform have been met with strong opposition in the Legislature and all efforts have been blocked. The most recent efforts were killed by the Republican controlled Senate. This blockage by the Republican party is mirrored in many other states as the Republican party challenges the inclusion of alternative candidates on the presidential ballot.

Oklahoma has some of the worst laws in the nation in regards to ballot access. This election and the two previous presidential elections are proof of that. We live in a Constitutional Republic, one in which the people choose who will represent them. In Oklahoma, we no longer have control over that process because the Legislature and the two major parties have usurped that right from the people.

Here is the letter published on September 21, 2012. The reason I post the edited letter is that the Daily Oklahoman stops allowing access to old articles and op-eds after a while and I like to have the full text preserved.

Regarding “Third party won’t be on state ballots” (News, Sept. 14): For the third presidential election in a row, Oklahoma will be the only state in the nation limited to two choices for president, the only state to deny its voters the right to cast their vote for the person the voter believes to be the best qualified for the role of president. When will Oklahomans stand up to the two-party tyranny of the dominant parties?

For over 10 years, supporters of ballot access reform have been met with strong opposition in the Legislature; all efforts have been blocked. The most recent efforts were killed by the Republican-controlled Senate. This blockage by the Republican Party is mirrored in many other states as the Republican Party challenges the inclusion of alternative candidates on the presidential ballot. Oklahoma has some of the worst laws in the nation regarding ballot access. This election and the two previous presidential elections are proof of that.

We live in a constitutional republic, one in which the people choose who will represent them. In Oklahoma, we no longer have control over that process because the Legislature and the two major parties have usurped that right from the people. This is a horrible injustice.

E. Zachary Knight, Newcastle

Again, not a bad edit.

I have begun a movement to protest Oklahoma’s ballot access laws. The way this is done is to skip the Presidential line of the ballot and then protest at the capital. You can find out more on Facebook.

Letter To NewsOK Regarding Ballot Access In OKlahoma Compared To Egypt

September 19, 2012 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Every once and a while, I send a letter to the editor of the Daily Oklahoman (or rather NewsOK.com). I think I have only ever had one turned down since it was too close to the last one I sent in. But I am always interested in seeing what edits they make before publishing the letter. Back in May, I wrote one about the state of ballot access in Oklahoma compared to Egypt. Here is the letter I sent to NewsOK:

During the week of May 21-25, Egyptians will get the long desired and much fought for opportunity to elect a new president for their nation. They paid for this opportunity with their blood. We as Americans and specifically Oklahomans cheered them on through their trials and protests to gain that right. As a result of their efforts, their blood, they will have the opportunity to choose a new President from a slate of thirteen candidates. Thirteen! How wonderful it must feel for these people to choose a president from such a wide array of view points representing the wide variety of people in their nation.

While we applaud them on in this wonderful demonstration of democracy in action, Oklahoma’s Senate is once again sitting on an opportunity to bring similar democracy to Oklahoma. For many years, the Oklahoma Legislature has been presented with bills that would have brought Egyptian level democracy to this state. Yet, every time it has been brought to a vote, someone stands in its way. This year, this has happened again.

This November, when Oklahomans take to the polls to elect the President, they will be presented with a ballot containing a grand total of two candidates for President. Two! What a contrast. Why should Egyptians be cheered on as they vote from thirteen candidates while we stand complacent voting from two? Why are we complacent in the illusion of democracy in this fine state?

This is the letter that was actually published:

Egyptians recently got the long-desired and much fought for opportunity to elect a new president for their nation. They paid for this opportunity with their blood. We Americans and specifically Oklahomans cheered them on through their trials and protests to gain that right. As a result of their efforts and their blood, they’ll have the opportunity to choose a new president from a slate of 13 candidates. Thirteen! How wonderful it must feel for these people to choose a president from such a wide array of viewpoints representing the wide variety of people in their nation.

While we applaud them on in this wonderful demonstration of democracy in action, Oklahoma is once again sitting on an opportunity to bring similar democracy to Oklahoma. For many years, the Legislature has been presented with bills that would have brought Egyptian-level democracy to this state. Yet every time it’s been brought to a vote, someone stands in its way. It happened again this year.

This November, when Oklahomans take to the polls to elect the president, they’ll be presented with a ballot containing a grand total of two candidates for president. Two! What a contrast. Why should Egyptians be cheered on as they vote from 13 candidates while we stand complacent voting from two? Why are we complacent in the illusion of democracy in this fine state?

Not really a bad edit job. I hope to write more to them and I need to write more here and on the other sites I run. Getting out of practice.

 

All Elections Shall Be Free And Equal, But Only If You Are A Democrat Or Republican

September 19, 2012 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Great Seal of The State of Oklahoma - 1907

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

There was a time once, when I thought that phrase meant something. Back when I was going to school learning about the political process in Civics class. You know, when you sit in learn about the American Revolution and what those Founding Fathers committed treason to obtain. They risked their lives and the lives of their families in order to bring about a system of government in which the people of the 13 Colonies could choose the people that represented their interests.

Can you imagine the pure determination and fear that must have run through the hearts and veins of those men as they each signed onto the Declaration of Independence? By signing that letter, they were putting themselves onto the top of England’s most wanted list. A list that was titled ‘Wanted, Dead or Alive.” These men then fought in a war to solidify their determination, their love of liberty, their desire to be ruled by the people for the people. Many people died in support of these treasonous heroes.

What would these men have to say if they were to have witnessed the actions of the Oklahoma government? What would they have said had they been in the room in 1974 when the Oklahoma Legislature wrote into law the Democratic and Republican parties? What would these men have said had they been in the room as those same people who were elected to represent the people of Oklahoma changed what was once a reasonable and fair law regarding the formation of new parties into the bastardization of the idea of fair representation we have now? What would these men have said as they witnessed the Oklahoma Legislature trample, ridicule and ignore the plight of Independent voters in this state? Perhaps they would have said something along these lines:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

That is certainly what they said when the English government repeatedly refused to acknowledge and listen to the pleas and petitions of the American people. Would they have said the same thing as they witnessed Oklahoma’s government do the same to the people of Oklahoma? I certainly think so. At the time, the English Government wasn’t a harsh ruler doling out punishments at will. No, it was simply an apathetic government which ignored the American Colonies in order to focus on building up the English Empire.

What we have right now in Oklahoma is an apathetic government. One that ignores the plight of the Oklahoma people in order to maintain and build up the empire of the two major parties, the Republican and Democratic parties. Let’s pause and think about the poetics of those two names. Both names are derived from the same roots of two words used to describe our system of government. A Democratic government is one in which all the people ruled under it have an equal voice in the affairs of the state. A Republic government is one in which the people elect representatives who represent the ideals of those who elect them. Both systems of government are built around the idea of equal representation. The Democratic government in which every voice is equal; the Republic government in which every person has an equal opportunity to elect a representative.

Think about that as you witness these two political parties usurp the will of the people. Think of that as you watch these two parties continually deny the people an equal voice in the affairs of this state. These two parties have become destructive to the unalienable rights of the people of this state. These two parties have decided that not everyone is created equal. These two parties have decided that they no longer derive their power by the will of the people. It is time we stopped them. It is time that we as a people, united, declared our independence from the rule of tyrants. It is time that we as a people, united, declared that we will no longer be satisfied for second class status.

I am tired of waiting for the Oklahoma Government to decide that it wants to give me back my right to be represented in our government. I am tired of sitting back and waiting for these two parties to decide to invite Independents out of the goodness of their hearts to participate in this Republic. It is time to declare our independence.

We have a system in this state in which the people can propose laws and the people can vote to enact them. This system was designed for times in which the people felt that the government could no longer be relied upon to do its duty. There are over 200,000 registered Independents in this state. We only need a bit over 100,000 signatures to declare a state question in which we can revert our election laws back to what can truly be called “free and equal”. We have the infrastructure to do this. It can be done.

What we need to do is put together an initiative petition to strike out the language that wrote the Republican and Democratic parties into law. We need to then revert the petition requirement to the original 5,000 that was required prior to 1974. Two very simple changes that will bring about a mountain of change in this state. That is my declaration of independence.

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.

Zachary Knight to Run for State Representative of District 46

June 12, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Zachary holding two of his daughtersZachary Knight has filed to run for State Representative serving District 46, which includes Newcastle, Noble and Norman.

Throughout his life, Zachary has learned that to be a true leader, one must put his own interests aside and focus on the needs of those he is serving. This lesson has been one taught to him through many acts of service through leadership. This is the type of leader that this state needs.

During his high school years, Zachary worked with the Boy Scouts of America as a lead instructor for new scouts at both Slippery Falls Scout Ranch in Tishomingo, Oklahoma and Camp Cherokee on the Grand Lake of the Cherokees.

After graduating high school, Zachary served as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Manchester, England area. While on this mission he served as a district leader and led the efforts of the missionaries in Liverpool, England. During his time as a missionary, he learned the value of service for others and love of God and his children.

Zachary attended Collins College in Tempe, Arizona where he not only learned the skills needed to design and develop, he also helped his classmates reach their potential as well. In July 2006, Zachary graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design.

Zachary and his family now live in Newcastle, Oklahoma. He serves in his community as a youth leader for the local branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He serves as an Assistant Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America and has helped three boys achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

He has also started a local chapter of the Entertainment Consumers Association in which he serves as Chapter President. In this role, he has worked with video game consumers in Oklahoma in pressuring state and federal representatives in passing legislation that provides better choices of broadband internet and protecting the rights of media consumers.

In 2006, Zachary registered to vote in Oklahoma as an Independent. While at the county court house, he inquired about the regulations on creating a new political party in this state. It was here that he learned of the unfair rules that prevent new parties from gaining access to the ballot. Here, he made the commitment to return those regulations back to the way they were prior to 1974.

He has since followed the decisions of our state legislature and the effects those choices have had on the rights of the citizens of Oklahoma.

This year, he decided enough was enough.

This year, the legislative session ended with no real progress on fixing our state’s budget shortfall. They failed for a second time to pass ballot access reform. They passed legislation that makes it more difficult for small businesses to operate. These are not the fruits of an effective government.

Zachary seeks to bring real reform to this state’s legislative branch. Real reform which requires representatives who are willing to serve the people and grant them a voice. Real reform which requires representatives who are willing to strengthen the people they serve and the economy in which they live.