Third party won't be on Oklahoma's November ballot

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that local members of the Americans Elect Party didn't have the authority from the national group to seek having presidential and vice presidential nominees placed on the state's Nov. 6 general election ballot.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: September 14, 2012
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A third political party has lost its bid to get its presidential and vice presidential nominees on Oklahoma's Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday to deny a request from the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party to have its nominees and the party's seven presidential electors listed.

The high court also denied the party's request to grant a temporary injunction requiring officials to halt printing ballots.

All state and local absentee ballots were printed Thursday afternoon, state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.

“The Election Board is on schedule with our general election preparations, including being able to meet the Sept. 21 deadline to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters, as required by federal and state law,” he said. “We remain on schedule for county election boards to receive their shipments of absentee ballots by Monday.”

The printing of regular and sample ballots is expected to begin Friday, Ziriax said.

James Linger, the attorney for the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party, said he was hoping for a different outcome.

“I have to review the decision to decide if there should be a motion to reconsider or something,” said Linger, of Tulsa.

Election officials, after getting advice from the state attorney general's office, decided last month 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 during arguments before a Supreme Court referee last week.

The Supreme Court in an order, written by Chief Justice Steven Taylor, said Oklahoma laws regulate recognition of political parties and the placement of presidential electors on a ballot.

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 order states.

“While this court recognizes the importance of choice and ballot access in elections, the law does not permit unauthorized groups to usurp the status of recognized political parties simply because those parties chose not to run candidates or chose to disband,” Taylor wrote. “If petitioners wish to become a recognized political party in Oklahoma, then they are required to go through the formation and recognition process (detailed in state law).”

Election officials sought the attorney general's advice after Rex Lawhorn, chairman of the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party, submitted his party's seven electors for the presidential election in early August; a day earlier, Kahil Byrd, a director of the Americans Elect Party, wrote Oklahoma election officials that the party was withdrawing its ballot line on the Nov. 6 ballot and was terminating its status as a qualified party in Oklahoma.