Language for Oklahoma ballot questioned

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: May 6, 2009 at 5:01 am •  Published: May 6, 2009
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A government watchdog group says proposed state question language could mislead voters.

Oklahomans for Responsible Government says language proposed by the attorney general’s office on a state question to limit terms of elected officials is confusing. Most state officials would be limited to eight years in office; Corporation Commission members could serve 12 years.

Language of the state question was reviewed by the attorney general’s office, which recommended it be changed to include a statement that says the proposal "limits the ability of voters to re-elect statewide elected officers.”

"We think that one sentence needs to be taken out,” said Peter Rudy, the watchdog group’s communications director. "It could be construed to mean that it doesn’t allow the re-election of any elected officials.”

Getting term limits enacted was the top priority for Oklahomans for Responsible Government this legislative session, and the group wants voters to understand the measure on the ballot, Rudy said.

Charlie Price, attorney general’s spokesman, said the proposed language meets strict requirements as set by law. Some of those requirements include explaining the ballot measure in "basic words.”

Price said the 10-day comment period on the language ends May 12. The secretary of state, speaker of the House and Senate president pro tempore can comment on the language before it’s finalized.