For Immediate Release Monday, March 21, 2016
Today the Oklahoma State Election Board announced that the Libertarian Party’s (OKLP) petition submitted on February 22 is valid, allowing candidates to appear on the state’s November ballot as Libertarians. OKLP has not been recognized as an official political organization in the state since 2000.
To become a recognized political party, Libertarians had to complete a massive signature drive. Although Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill in 2015 to reduce the signature requirement to 24,745, it’s still among the states with the highest ballot-access qualification hurdles.
The Election Board deemed 30,517 of the 42,182 signatures that Libertarians turned in to be valid.
‘Thanks to the hard work of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and the signatures of over 42,000 Oklahomans, every voter in the state will be able to vote this year for a Libertarian, identified with the party label, for the first time in 16 years,’ said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. ‘Every American deserves a Libertarian choice on their ballot, and the Libertarian Party is committed to making sure every American has that choice this election year.’
Oklahoma requires partisan candidates on the November ballot to be registered with their party by March 31, leaving very little time for Libertarians who wish to run in November to change their voter registration. However, the Oklahoma Attorney General and Election Board may extend the deadline to early April because state law allows 15 days for candidates wishing to run in newly recognized political parties to reregister.
First-time voters must register in the Libertarian Party or as independents by June 3 to participate in the June 28th Libertarian primary.
OKLP will field Libertarians for state and federal offices this year, including the party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees, on the Libertarian ticket.
‘Oklahoma Libertarians are excited by the prospect of seeing candidates on the ballot that represent us politically,’ said OKLP Vice Chair Tina Kelly. ‘For the most part we don’t agree with the direction the old parties have been taking our state and our country. This year there will be principled liberty options to cast votes for, and I expect the electorate to be inspired by that and to re-engage in a big way.’
To remain an official political party in Oklahoma, the Libertarian Party must have its presidential candidate receive 10 percent of the vote in the November election. A bill is pending, which has passed in the state senate, to reduce that requirement to 2.5 percent.