State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Grant McLoughlin

Politics and courts in Oklahoma: Recipe for Accountability? Or Corruption?

by Grant McLoughlin

Oklahoma Judicial elections have long been afterthoughts. Oklahoma has a two tiered system for selecting judges. Voters elect local trial judges directly through a non-partisan Top Two primary. Every four years local trial judges must run for re-election. Statewide appellate judges are nominated through a nonpartisan judicial nominating commission. The commission is made up of fifteen members, six lawyers and nine non lawyers. The commission sends a list of candidates to the governor, who then appoints those individuals she thinks best to serve. Appellate judges, whether recently appointed or not, then face voters on a nonpartisan retention ballot every four years. Voters have two options: they can either keep the judge; or remove the judge, causing the nominating process to begin anew to fill the vacancy.  Prior to this system judges ran in partisan races and were forced to commit a great deal of time to campaigning and raising funds.  Since the retention system has been in place in Oklahoma, no judge has ever been removed through a vote of the people. Continue reading

The Battleground 2012: Whose [Presidential Ballot] Line Is It Anyway?

by Grant McLoughlin

The new national party Americans Elect was able to achieve ballot access in Oklahoma for the 2012 presidential election even though its bid to put a national third party presidential candidate on the ballot in all fifty states fizzled. Oklahoma has one of the strictest ballot access laws in the nation. Title 26 § 1-108 requires new parties seeking ballot access to submit petitions of registered voters equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast in the most recent general election. This creates a significant barrier for new parties wishing to stand for election in Oklahoma. In 2008 Oklahoma only had two choices, Democratic and Republican candidates. By having more choices voters are able to vote for candidates that best reflect their views.

This year the party Americans Elect was able to qualify in all states due in large part to well financed organization. The problem in Oklahoma, as in other states, is that Americans Elect failed to nominate a candidate for its hard-won slot as a third party on the ballot. As 2012 progressed and no candidate emerged, states began to wonder who would appear on the Americans Elect line on the ballot. Continue reading

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