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The Oklahoma Americans Elect Party sues to get on Oklahoma ballot

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: September 1, 2012
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Election officials sought the attorney general's office advice after Rex Lawhorn, chairman of the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party, submitted his party's seven electors for the presidential election; a day earlier, Kahil Byrd, a director of the Americans Elect Party, wrote Oklahoma election officials that the party is withdrawing its ballot line on the Nov. 6 ballot and is terminating its status as a qualified party in Oklahoma.

Lawhorn told election officials that members of the newly formed Oklahoma Americans Elect Party met earlier and agreed to have Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, James Gray, listed as their party's nominees.

“I don't think the national party can tell the state party what to do, particularly when the national party wants to go out of existence,” Linger said.

“If they don't get on the ballot in Oklahoma, this will be the third presidential election in a row where Oklahoma has had only two choices,” he said. “Every other state is going to have three, four, or five or six choices.”

A Libertarian candidate hasn't been on Oklahoma's presidential ballot since 2000. In 2004 and 2008, Oklahoma was the only state that had only Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Write-in candidates are not allowed.

Americans Elect Party officials planned to hold the first-ever online nominating convention to select a president-and-vice president ticket, but the idea evaporated when no candidates stepped forward to run. Americans Elect Party officials decided in June to suspend their plans.

Efforts to obtain political party status this year in Oklahoma for the Libertarian Party came up short. To have names placed on state ballots, a political party has to get signatures of registered voters that equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast for the office at the top of the previous ticket, or for this year, the total votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race. The party needed 51,739 valid signatures.

The Libertarian Party earlier this year turned in about 56,000 signatures, of which 41,070 were determined to be registered voters. Americans Elect turned in about 90,000 signatures. It was determined 68,424 signatures were registered voters