We have talked about the fact that not everyone in our nation prescribes to one particular political party. In fact, a third of the citizens in the US are registered as Independent or in another party aside from Democrat or Republican. However, when the presidential elections come around every four years we typically only see debates for the two candidates from the major parties. And sometimes those are the only two we see on the state ballot.
Many of us assume that the presidential ballot is the same in each state. The presidential office is a national office, so why wouldn’t it be? Unfortunately this isn’t true. I live in the state of Oklahoma and we typically have two choices on our presidential ballot – the Republican and Democratic nominees. Normally this isn’t different from any other states. Except this year.
There is a presidential candidate for the Libertarian party named Gary Johnson. He is on the ballot currently in 48 states and the District of Columbia. However, he is not on the ballot in Oklahoma. He is currently not on the ballot in Virginia; however, it looks promising that they will add him before ballots go to print.
So what happened in Oklahoma?
To have names placed on state ballots; a political party has to get signatures of registered voters that equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast for the office at the top of the previous ticket. The party needed 51,739 valid signatures to have names placed on the state ballots. The Libertarian Party of Oklahoma secured 56,000 signatures; however, only 41,070 were determined to be registered voters, so the party fell short. There was an up-and-coming party called Americans Elect that was gaining traction and had an Oklahoma presence. The Oklahoma Americans Elect party secured about 90,000 signatures. It was determined 68,424 signatures were registered voters, so the party was added to the ballot. Their candidate of choice was Gary Johnson.
Here comes the tricky part. Americans Elect disbanded nationally. However, the Oklahoma group stayed intact. The national group had secured presidential candidates spots in numerous states and sent out mass mailings to let every state election board know that they no longer wanted their line on the ballot. Oklahoma received this letter and immediately removed the Americans Elect from the ballot. The very next day the Oklahoma American Elects party registered Gary Johnson for their candidate. All seemed ready to go until they were told they could no longer have a candidate because the party had disband nationally.
Gary Johnson is running in the Libertarian Party in every other state, but because of the signatures lacking for the Oklahoma Libertarian party, he cannot run as Libertarian.
The Libertarian Party and Oklahoma America Elects party took the issue to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. They wanted Oklahoma to hold off on printing ballots until Gary Johnson had a chance to remedy the issue. The Oklahoma Supreme court denied their injunction and the ballots are being printed without Gary Johnson on the ballot.
This is nothing new for Oklahoma, the last third-party candidate in Oklahoma was back in 2000. This will be the third presidential ballot without a third choice. I will point out that write-ins are also not allowed in Oklahoma.
What do you think? Should this be allowed? Our presidential office is a nationally held office. Should specific states be able to deny a candidate from their ballot even if they are on every other ballot in the country?