Posts Tagged: ‘Voter Rights’

Republican Hypocrisy Glowing When It Comes To Voting Rights

October 17, 2012 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Someone provided a link to a press release about the Republican party filing a lawsuit in order to make sure that all our over seas troops get the opportunity to vote this election. Unfortunately, when you look at the Republican party’s history when it comes to elections and voters, you see a fair amount of hypocrisy in the whole thing. Here are a number of reasons why this gesture is both meaningless and offensive.

Oklahoma has the absolute worst ballot access laws in the nation. This year makes 3 presidential elections where Oklahoma is the only state in the nation limited to two choices. Bills have been introduced in Oklahoma to change these laws and it has been the Republican party Senators that have blocked the bills from passing EVERY year.

Over the last 4 years, the Republican party has been engaged in a voter disenfranchisement campaign. Included in this campaign are more strict voter ID laws in various states. These laws typically harm older and poorer individuals who are less likely to have or get valid ID. They are also implementing various voter registration purges that are sweeping up massive amounts legitimate voters and canceling their registration without telling them. They have also changed early voting laws in various states in which a high percentage of Democratic voters use early voting.

They have also been actively engaged in blocking valid presidential candidates from the ballot. The three states that are the worst offenders are Oklahoma, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Oklahoma, not only do we have the worst ballot access laws, the Republican Attorney General, Election Board, Secretary of State and State Supreme Court made up new laws and rules on the spot to prevent a valid party and a valid candidate from getting on the ballot.

In Michigan, the Republican party used a poorly worded and a poorly written law to block Gary Johnson from the ballot. This law was written to keep “sore losers” from running as another party’s candidate if they lost a different party’s primary. Gary Johnson was never meant to be on the Michigan Primary ballot but they felt the need to leave him there just for this.

In Pennsylvania, they have a law that punishes political parties who fail to provide a valid petition for ballot access. This fine can reach into the $100’s of thousands. The Republican Party spent over a month trying to invalidate the Libertarian party’s petition for ballot access. They wasted not only their time, but the Libertarian party’;s time and the court’s time and the election office’s time. They even challenged signatures they agreed were valid once it was determined that the Libertarian party had enough signatures.

This is not a party that cares about letting people vote. The only reason they are making a big deal about soldiers voting is because they see it as a way to attack Obama. They could not care less about who or even if those soldiers get to vote. They only care about winning and they are not above using every dirty trick in the book to get there. The Republican party absolutely disgusts me in this. They are hypocrites, liars and thieves.

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. 747: Term Limits

September 27, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

State Question 747 creates term limits for all state wide elected officials. The language is as follows:

This measure amends sections 4 and 23 of Articles 6 and section 15 of Article 9 of the State Constitution.

It limits the ability of voters to re-elect statewide elected officers by limiting how many years those officers can serve.  It limits the number of years a person may serve in each statewide elected office.  Service as Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Lieutenant Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Attorney General is limited to eight years.  Service as Treasurer is limited to eight years.  Service as Commissioner of Labor is limited to eight years.  Service as Auditor and Inspector is limited to eight years. Service as Superintendent of Public Instruction is limited to eight years.  Service as Insurance Commissioner is limited to eight years.  Service as a Corporation Commissioner is limited to twelve years. Service for less than a full term would not count against the limit on service.  Years of service need not be consecutive for the limits to apply. Officers serving when this measure is passed can complete their terms.  All such serving officers, except the Governor, can also serve an additional eight or twelve years.

I support this measure. I believe that all elected officials should serve limited terms in office. I believe that instituting term limits in the legislature was one of the best things done for our state government in a long time.

This coupled with limits on lobbyist spending is a strong influence in preserving ethics in our government and elected officials. creating term limits also limits the ability of politicians from becoming “career politicians” who care for nothing other than getting reelected. If politicians know they will only be serving a limited time, they will work harder to pass legislation and policies that benefit the people they represent.

Vote Yes on SQ 747

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.

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.