On February 15, three Oklahoma bills to ease ballot access passed unanimously in the House Elections & Ethics Committee.
HB 1563 eases ballot access for independent presidential candidates, and the presidential tickets of unqualified parties. It lowers the requirement from 3% of the last presidential vote (currently over 40,000 signatures) to exactly 5,000 signatures. Current law does not permit an independent presidential candidate, or the presidential ticket of an unqualified party, to get on the ballot with a fee instead. But the bill would say that no petition is needed if a $5,000 fee is paid.
HB 1564 lowers the number of signatures in lieu of the filing fee for all non-presidential candidates, both party members and independents. Current law requires a number of signatures equal to 4% of the number of registered voters, for candidates who don’t wish to pay the filing fee. The bill lowers the number of signatures in lieu of the filing fee so that they match the dollar amounts of the filing fees. The current gubernatorial filing fee is $1,500. The bill does not change the filing fee amounts, but would set the petition in lieu of the filing fee at 1,500 signatures. Similarly, the same principle is applied to all other non-presidential office. The in lieu petition would be these amounts for these offices: 1,000 for U.S. Senate; 750 for U.S. House; 500 for lesser statewide state office; and 200 for legislature.
HB 1565 makes it easier for a party to remain on the ballot. Current law requires 2.5% of the vote for the office at the top of the ticket, and it must be met every two years. The bill would keep the 2.5%, but it would apply to any statewide office. Also when a party meets the vote test, it would then be safely be on the ballot for four years, not two years. Thanks to E. Zachary Knight for this news.