The Oklahoma Americans Elect Party seeks to stop printing of absentee ballots for Oklahoma's general election
A decision on whether to grant an emergency order to stop state election officials from printing absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 general election is expected Thursday.
The Oklahoma Americans Elect Party and the party's seven presidential electors are seeking the temporary injunction against the state Election Board until a ruling is issued on their lawsuit that seeks to get their presidential and vice presidential nominees listed on the ballot.
State Supreme Court referee Barbara Swimley listened to arguments for the emergency request Wednesday afternoon and sent her findings to Vice Chief Justice Tom Colbert. She also heard arguments on the lawsuit; she'll send a memorandum to all nine high court justices to consider after the state attorney general's office files a legal response early next week.
Failure to get an injunction “makes it more difficult” for the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party's lawsuit to succeed, said James Linger, the attorney who filed the litigation. But it wouldn't necessarily mean the lawsuit would fail, he said.
“A lot of these election cases, a lot of times courts can make a preliminary ruling and then they change their mind later,” said Linger, of Tulsa. “We sometimes have 5-4 decisions.”
Printing began Tuesday
Election officials began printing absentee ballots Tuesday, according to an affidavit from Fran Roach, assistant state Election Board secretary. Absentee ballots must be mailed to military members and others living in other countries by Sept. 21, or 45 days before the Nov. 6 election.
Absentee ballots are being printed for Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties, the state's three largest counties, she said in the court paper. Election employees will work this weekend on setting up print files for absentee ballots; all printing of absentee ballots must be completed by Sept. 17 for the ballots to get to the 77 county election boards, where they are prepared for mailing.
By Tuesday, about 1,200 requests had been received, Roach said.
“We expect that number of requests to increase significantly,” she said. “In 2008, absentee ballots were sent to 8,368 military and overseas voters for the general election.
“Any delay in the schedule for election setup and ballot printing would likely make it impossible for the staff of the state Election Board and the printer to complete the work necessary to provide absentee ballots to the county election boards in time to meet the Sept. 21 deadline,” she said.
Election officials, after getting advice from the state attorney general's office, decided last week not to place the Americans Elect nominees on the ballot. National party officials never authorized the formation of a local party group or committee in Oklahoma, nor did they file the paperwork or complete the necessary tasks to be recognized as a political party in the state, Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader said.
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