State of Elections

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Tag: Oklahoma

Use-it-or-lose-it Voting Rights: A Closer Look at Oklahoma’s Voter List Maintenance

By: Sarah Marshment

In Oklahoma, April 15 doesn’t just mean that it’s time to turn your taxes in: at least, not on odd years like 2019. In the spring of every odd year, Oklahoma does voter list maintenance. This last April, state election officials in Oklahoma removed 88,276 registered voters from the voting rolls. Although this purging is required by law, state election officials offer up an additional justification – voter fraud.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax stated that “[m]aintaining clean and updated voter rolls . . . . protects our democracy by making it far more difficult for someone to use outdated voter lists to attempt to commit fraud or disrupt our elections.” Given the rising levels of concern about the security of our elections, this is a powerful rationale to invoke. However, Mr. Ziriax himself also states that “voter fraud is exceptionally rare in Oklahoma and is not a major issue here.” Mr. Ziriax explains that “this is not a new process, it is not partisan, and no Oklahoma voter is ever removed simply for failing to vote.”

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OK: Independents, Welcome to the Democratic Primaries

By: Ajinur Setiwaldi

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is making history this year by opening up their primaries to independent voters. Delegates at the state convention approved (314-147) the change in July 2015 and expect independent voters to participate in the party’s presidential primaries in March 2016. Registered independents will also be able to participate in democratic primaries for all state and local elections.

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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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