Third-party Oklahoma voters seek easier ballot access

Those attending a rally ask lawmakers to ease requirements to get a third party on the state's ballot.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: October 9, 2012
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Independents and voters wanting more of a choice in candidates called upon lawmakers Monday to ease Oklahoma's ballot access laws, which are regarded as the most restrictive in the country.

“Everyone should have a voice,” said Donna Bebo, of Fletcher, a Democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District. “I don't believe that any vote is a wasted vote.”

R.J. Harris, an independent candidate for the 4th Congressional District who earlier sought the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, criticized lawmakers for wanting to keep only the Democratic and Republican parties on the ballot.

“The parties no longer represent us,” said Harris, of Norman. “It's time for us to realize that party politics is not how we're going to fix this country.”

Legislators have rebuffed efforts over the years of relaxing requirements to get another party on the ballot. The House of Representatives passed a bill in 2011 that would have lowered the number of petition signatures needed to get a political party on the ballot, but it failed to advance in the Senate.

Some of the 40 people attending a noon rally on the Capitol's north plaza also were irked by a state Supreme Court ruling last month that denied a request from the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party to have its nominees and the party's seven presidential electors listed on the state's Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Members of the newly formed Oklahoma Americans Elect Party voted to have Gary Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, James Gray, listed as their party's nominees.

The Oklahoma Americans Elect Party members were never authorized to act on behalf of the Americans Elect party, which was formed in Washington, D.C., the high court said. National party officials notified the state Election Board in August that it was withdrawing its ballot line on the Nov. 6 ballot and was terminating its status as a qualified party in Oklahoma.

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.

The Libertarian Party's presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, will be on the ballot in 47 states.

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