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Oklahoma should make ballot access easier for third parties

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: December 11, 2012

Proponents of ballot access reform have worked for years to get our laws changed. In 2009, a bill that would have made it easier for third-party candidates won approval in the House and Senate, then stalled in a conference committee. Two years later, the House passed a bill that would have reduced the number of petition signatures needed. It went nowhere in the Senate.

This year, the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, was on the ballot in 47 states. At a rally here in October, Johnson said candidates shouldn't be kept off the ballot “in an attempt to simply foster and continue to prop up the two-party system. The people deserve the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

During an appearance in Oklahoma City two years ago, consumer advocate Ralph Nader said our state's ballot access rules are among the nation's toughest. “A competitive democracy with multiple candidates, multiple ideas, multiple backgrounds and multiple agendas is going to bring more people out to vote and we're going to have a better political process,” he said.

Donna Bebo, who ran as a Democrat for the 4th Congressional District seat, put it this way: “Candidates should not win simply because of who they keep off the ballot. They should win on their own merit.” She has a point.

In conservative Oklahoma, Republicans enjoy firm and growing control of the Legislature. They have nothing to fear from providing a voice to others, by lowering some of the significant hurdles now in place for third-party candidates trying to get on our ballot.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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