Oklahoma Legislature Hates Democracy: The Sequel

May 2, 2011 Posted by zachary

Great Seal of The State of Oklahoma - 1907Last week I wrote how the Oklahoma Legislature failed, for the fourth year in a row, to pass Ballot Access Reform. That, unfortunately, is not the end of their Democracy hating actions. They also passed a bill that greatly decreases the amount of time that new parties have to gather the unnecessarily burdensome number of signatures.

Prior to the passage of HB 1615, the deadline for new party petitions was May. This bill changes that to March. A loss of 2 months to gather the 50,000+ signatures needed to have party approval for 2012.

What really gets my goat here, is the fact that Senator Sykes is the Senate Sponsor of this bill as well as a committee member of the Senate Rules Committee that killed HB 1058, the Ballot Access Reform bill. So in two moves Senator Sykes made it even more difficult for the people of Oklahoma to hold a “free and equal” election (Oklahoma Constitution, Section III-5)

We also have some other aspects of the hypocrisy involved in the passage of this bill that was pointed out by Brian Altenhofel on his blog:

Now here’s where it gets interesting. I was looking through the votes on HB1615 and a certain name stood out: Key. Representative Charles Key (R) is the author of HB1058 and has repeatedly positioned himself as a staunch supporter of ballot access rights. Yet he cast a vote for limiting ballot access on HB1615.

So who else voted for both bills? Well, a lot of people. But I am going to specifically mention Representative Scott Martin as he is my state representative and opponent in the 2010 election. He has a reputation with me of not being in favor of Ballot Access Reform, so seeing his “yea” vote on HB1058 is a relative surprise. I will comment on that in another post.

There is also the idea that this reduction in petition gathering time is unconstitutional. Ballot Access News points out several court cases that seem to indicate that reducing the time petitioners have to gather signatures is quite unconstitutional and will not pass court judgement. So yet again, Oklahoma is passing a law that it knows quite well will be challenged in court.

In the end, the Oklahoma Legislature has shown that Democracy is not something they care about. The Democratic Party of Oklahoma has shown this in previous years and the initial change in 1974. The Republican Party of Oklahoma has shown this this year. It just doesn’t look like Oklahoma is going to get real Democracy any time soon unless the people of Oklahoma get off their butts and demand it.

We have over 200,000 registered Independents in this State. Surely, we can muster enough of them to get a couple of political parties on the ballot and also get a question on the 2012 ballot that would reduce the signature requirement for new parties. This past election, a question passed the vote of the people to make it easier for the people to get a law or constitutional amendment on the ballot. Maybe we can bring Democracy to Oklahoma that way.

For more information on Oklahoma Election Laws and Ballot Access Reform:

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