Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The Year of Reform?

This year has brought good news for freedom and democracy in Oklahoma.

Last month, the state’s attorney general, Drew Edmondson, dropped his appeal of a federal court decision, which had overturned part of Oklahoma’s petition law. The AG also dismissed all charges against the Oklahoma Three — Rick Carpenter, Susan Johnson and me.

Hopefully, with the end of this politically motivated prosecution, the chilling effect it has had on Oklahomans who want to petition government will quickly dissipate.

But still, as State Senator Randy Brogdon points out, Oklahoma’s petition process remains “the most onerous . . . in the nation.” That’s the bad news.

The good news? Senator Brogdon and State Representative Randy Terrill aim to change all that. They’ve introduced legislation to “tear down many of the roadblocks that currently prevent the people from exercising their First Amendment rights.”

There’s a constitutional amendment to lower the signature requirements on petitions, now the highest percentage in the nation. A separate statute would give citizens a year to collect signatures, rather than the short 90-day window currently required. That statute would also clean up the process to prevent petitions from being thrown out arbitrarily.

Only three out of 24 initiative petitions this decade have made the Sooner State’s ballot. “Perhaps relief is on the way,” wrote The Oklahoman newspaper. Brogdon says, “2009 could be the year for reform.”

Now is exactly the right time.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

3 Comments

  1. Your column is too optimistic about the Oklahoma legislature. So far this year it has killed Senator Brogdon’s bill to make it easier for minor parties to get on the ballot (none has appeared on the ballot in 9 years). But it has advanced bills to put the King James Version of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds, and it has advanced a bill to force candidates to arrange to have their birth certificate sent to the Board of Elections from the agency that issued that birth certificate, a bureaucratic nightmare, especially for foreign born citizens.

  2. Charles Holtzback says:

    Oklahoma’s petition process isn’t the most onerous in the nation. Not being able to resort to a petition process is much worse.

  3. George says:

    Oklahoman’s are lucky compared to those of us in Connecticut, who have NO right of petition and NO prospect of the Legislatures ever letting us have one.

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