Ballot access reform is again on the table in Oklahoma. Will this be the year that we join the rest of the United States in easing the requirements to form a new party? Will this be the year Oklahomans can look forward to real choice in future presidential elections? Or will we see a continuation of the status quo?
Unfortunately, things are off to a rocky start. While bills have been introduced in both houses of the Legislature, these bills are in the same position as similar bills were in the past two legislative sessions. That position ended with prior efforts dying in committee. The House version, House Bill 2134, reduces the signature requirement to 5,000, the same requirement needed prior to 1974. Yet the Senate version, Senate Bill 668, retains the current 5 percent requirement but drops the presidential elections from the equation. This has been the hard Senate line for many years.
It's time for the Senate to end its war on Oklahoma voter choice and amend SB 668 to reflect the language introduced in the House. There are no valid reasons for keeping the status quo and blocking a change for the better in Oklahoma politics. It's time for change. If three presidential elections in a row when Oklahoma was the only state with two choices on the ballot isn't evidence to support that, what is?
E. Zachary Knight, Newcastle