If you’re a third party candidate in Oklahoma and want to get on the ballot, good luck, according to a ballot access reform group.
According to Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform, Oklahoma is one of the most restrictive state’s for ballot access. The national chairman of the Libertarian Party met with lawmakers on Monday urging them to support measures to change candidates get on the ballot in Oklahoma. Advocates point out that Oklahoma was the only state in both 2004 and 2008 where voters only had two choices for president.
Rep. Charles Key, R-Oklahoma City, has a bill that’s in conference committee that would change how many signatures are needed for a third party candidate to get on the ballot. Even though House Bill 1072 has been conference since last session, Key says progress is being made.
Under the current law, a third party candidate must get about 5 percent of the votes cast in the most recent election, or about 73,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot in Oklahoma. Valid signatures means the signature of a registered voter, whose information on the petition is the same as what’s on their voter registration card. Most petitioners aim to get twice as many signatures they need, knowing that signatures won’t meet the requirement. That’s like getting the signature of every one inside University of Oklahoma’s football stadium on game day.
Bill Redpath, with the Libertarian Party points out that in Colorado and Louisiana, a third party can get on the ballot with just 1,000 valid signatures.
“You have less choice in Oklahoma than many other states,” Redpath said.
Under Key’s bill, the signature requirement would be decreased and candidates would fewer signatures to get on the ballot. Reformers want a third party candidate to be able to get on the ballot with 5,000 valid signatures.
Redpath pointed out that the Libertarian Party in Oklahoma does well, but supporters still can’t get a candidate on the presidential ballot.
“I don’t think its an issue at the top of people’s minds,” he said. “But I think it (signature requirement for third party candidates) would shock the general public. It’s an arcane are of politics.”
The Libertarian Party in the nation’s third largest political party with 250,000 registered voters.
Other parties are also looking for reform. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma, would also like to see signature requirement decreased, said Marcus Kesler, with the Pirate Party.