Third-party presidential and vice presidential candidates won't appear on Oklahoma ballot

The attorney general's office advises state election officials not to place the Libertarian Party presidential and vice presidential candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot. An Oklahoma group of the Americans Elect Party sought to have those names listed as Americans Elect Party candidates.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: August 29, 2012
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The state attorney general's office is advising state election officials not to place third-party presidential and vice presidential candidates on Oklahoma's ballot in November.

Oklahoma's chairman of the Americans Elect Party said Wednesday a challenge will be filed to the legal memorandum issued by Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader.

“That was quite disappointing,” said Rex Lawhorn, of Broken Arrow. “Litigation is definitely on the table. … We're not going to give up. The state made the wrong decision in this particular case.”

Leader wrote in a memorandum to the Oklahoma Election Board that national officials with the Americans Elect Party never authorized the formation of any local party group or committee in Oklahoma. Nor did national party officials ever file the paperwork and complete the necessary tasks to be recognized as a political party in the state. Under the Americans Elect Party's bylaws, it is the party's board of directors that is empowered to perform any functions of the local party or committee in Oklahoma, not Lawhorn's group.

It also was the Americans Elect Party's board of directors — not Lawhorn's group — that was empowered, if desired, to elect the party's Oklahoma presidential electors, Leader said.

“Under these facts, Mr. Lawhorn's local group is at best a group acting in good faith, but a group acting without authority to act for the Americans Elect Party,” Leader wrote. “At worst, Mr. Lawhorn's local group is a group acting to hijack the Americans Elect Party for the benefit of the Libertarian Party's candidates for president and vice president — candidates who have not succeeded in other attempts to appear on the ballot in Oklahoma.”

Leader advised election officials not to place Americans Elect Party presidential and vice presidential candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Even if Lawhorn's group were authorized to nominate presidential electors, no Americans Elect Party candidates should appear on the ballot because the national party's board of directors chose not to field candidates for president or vice president, Leader said. Electors, if chosen, would have no function; under Oklahoma law, electors appear only in brackets next to the candidates for president and vice president chosen by the party at the national level.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said his staff will comply with Leader's advice and proceed accordingly.

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