Oklahoma State Senator Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher) has introduced SB 668, which does not improve ballot access for newly-qualifying parties in presidential election years, but which does improve it in midterm years. The bill retains the 5% figure for calculating the number of signatures, but it changes the base from the last vote cast, to the last vote cast in a midterm year. If this bill were in effect now, the 2014 requirement would be 51,739 instead of the actual requirement of 66,744.
In 2011, the Oklahoma House had passed HB 1058, which lowered the number of signatures to exactly 22,500. But the Senate in 2012 had amended it to 5% of the last midterm vote cast, exactly what the new 2013 bill does. In the last session, the two houses never held a conference committee to straighten out the two versions of the bill, so nothing passed.
Senator Johnson is the Vice-Chair of the Oklahoma Senate Rules Committee. In the last session he was the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee. Also in the last session, he was the lead sponsor of the National Popular Vote Plan bill, which didn’t pass in Oklahoma.
None of these bills makes any change at all to the March 1 petition deadline. Oklahoma legislators seem never to notice that there have been 51 constitutional ballot access cases in which petition deadlines that early for newly-qualifying parties or independent candidates have been struck down. There are no precedents in any state upholding such an early deadline. Thanks to E. Zachary Knight for this news.