I spent an afternoon at the State Fair earlier this week with a sample ballot in hand, asking people what they thought the questions would do, or if they were even aware there were 11 measures on the backside of the ballot.
Some people were surprised. Others were aware, but uninformed. They vowed to read up on the state questions before election day. I was surprised to hear so many people were willing to do that.
But that doesn’t mean everybody will. Lee Slater, an attorney who served as the state Election Board secretary for nearly a decade, says the longer the ballot, the less people are likely to vote.
So for the average voter…the advice is this: Know what’s on the ballot. The widely debated SQ 744 is the first question on the ballot. The last question on the ballot is a measure that increases the amount of money the state must save in its Rainy Day Fund.
Read in between those and decide whether voters should have to present identification to vote, or if English should be the state’s official language. And don’t forget the “opt out question.” Supporters of this question like to call it the “Obama Care bill.” One supporter said if the question had Obamacare in it, more people would vote against it.
Here’s a video from our trip to the State Fair.
And here is an editorial we ran in August discussing some of the state questions. Read up. Take a cheat sheet…and don’t forget the reading glasses.
A crowded November ballot will be stuffed to overflowing in Oklahoma thanks to the inclusion of a whopping 11 state questions. We can be thankful it’s not worse — one question intended for the ballot got pulled after legislators hashed things out among themselves.
There were nine state questions on the ballot six years ago, including biggies dealing with the lottery, expansion of electronic gaming and a tobacco tax. That was a presidential election year, which helped drive turnout; this slate of questions will compete for voters’ attention along with every major statewide race, from governor to labor commissioner, along with legislative and local races.
This package of questions includes some heavyweight topics, too. The heaviest is State Question 744, an attempt by the state‘s largest teachers union to tie Oklahoma’s education funding to a regional per-pupil average. This odious proposal would have a devastating impact on the state budget without the promise of any reform. Our guess is voters will be keenly attuned to this issue by the time Nov. 2 arrives.
They can be forgiven if they do nothing but yawn at four of the questions, which are little more than ideological benders. These are state questions 751, 754, 755 and 756.
SQ 751 would amend the state constitution to require that all official state actions be conducted in English. Thirty other states have declared English their official language; adding Oklahoma to the list wouldn’t exactly be something to brag about.
SQ 754 is an attempt to make SQ 744 moot, if it passes. It would amend our constitution to forbid legislative appropriations based on spending in other states. However, there’s a good chance some of the language in this question is unconstitutional and thus would itself be rendered moot someday.
SQ 755 would prohibit Oklahoma courts from using international or Sharia law when deciding cases. We’re not making this up. Never mind that judges in Oklahoma are now already bound to follow state and federal precedent. In the view of those ideologues who placed this question on the ballot, you can’t be too careful.
SQ 756 would allow Oklahoma to reject any law or rule that requires a person, employer or health care provider to take part in a health care system. This was Republican legislators’ response to passage this year of President Obama’s health care plan although the question indicates federal law might pre-empt the state law even if the state question is approved.
Given the tenor of the times, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if all four of these questions passed easily. Of course that’s provided voters have the stamina to make it all the way to the end of the ballot.