Oklahoma Bill to Raise Filing Fees Advances

On April 26, the Oklahoma House passed SB 323, which raises filing fees. The bill also alters the formula for how many signatures are needed in lieu of the filing fee. The number of signatures needed becomes slightly lower for Republicans, slightly higher for Democrats, far higher for Libertarians and any other minor parties who qualify in the future, and much lower for independent candidates. UPDATE: the bill is not through the legislature yet. The House version is slightly different than the Senate version, so it must pass the Senate again, or go to a conference committee. An earlier version of this post said the bill had passed entirely through the legislature. Thanks to E. Zachary Knight for the update.

The old formula for petitions in lieu of filing fee was 4% of the registered voters who were eligible to vote for that candidate in the primary (except that in the case of independents, it was 4% of the number of all registered voters). The new formula pays no attention to how many registered voters there are in each party, and instead is 2% of all the registered voters.

As to the amount of the fees, president rises from $2,500 to $5,000; Governor from $1,500 to $2,000; U.S. Senate from $1,000 to $2,000; U.S. House from $750 to $1,000.

The bill’s provision for signatures in lieu of filing fee is possibly unconstitutional as to candidates from small qualified parties, because they would be forced to seek signatures from people who are not members of their party, even though they are seeking to place themselves on their own party’s primary ballot. In Oklahoma, all parties nominate by primary.

The analysis of the bill prepared for legislators falsely claimed that the number of signatures in lieu of the filing fee would decrease for all candidates. Also, on the floor, the sponsor of the bill falsely claimed that the number of signatures in lieu of the fee would decrease for all candidates. Thanks to E. Zachary Knight for this news.


Comments

Oklahoma Bill to Raise Filing Fees Advances — 3 Comments

  1. There is a bit of a complication regarding the calculation of the number of signatures required for candidates who seek to get on the ballot by petition. The law being replaced required a percentage of the number of voters eligible to participate in a primary for that candidate. Because the OKLP has allowed Independents to participate in their primary for every election cycle they’ve been in since the option has been available, Independents would have counted in the calculation of the number of signatures necessary(no LP candidate ever even tried to get on the ballot by petition, to my knowledge).
    Under the current law, a Libertarian attempting to get on the ballot for Governor would need 12,804 signatures(4% of the combined number of Libertarians and Independents). Under SB 323, 43,238 signatures would be needed(2% of all registered voters.
    The OKLP is allowed to restrict it’s primary to just registered Libertarians(in fact, the GOP has never opened it’s primaries to Independents and the Democrats only did so for the first time in 2016) and under the current law if they chose to do so a candidate for Governor would only need 159 signatures.

  2. When I wrote that post, I assumed the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma would want to restrict voting in its primary to just registered Libertarians in 2018 and future years.

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