Oklahoma’s Signature Drive Featured in Red Dirt Report

Andy Jacobs OK

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SIGN HERE: Oklahoma’s Libertarians look to give voters another choice in ’16 election

Steve Long | September 11, 2015

EDMOND, Okla. — Ask anybody in the streets of Oklahoma their thoughts on the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and you are likely to get the response that they didn’t know there was a Libertarian Party in Oklahoma.

The fact is that, yes, there is a Libertarian Party in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, those in charge down on 23rd and Lincoln have made it next to impossible for anybody to know about them. The Libertarian Party in Oklahoma has attempted for decades to gain official recognition in the State of Oklahoma and this upcoming election cycle just may be the year that they finally get the job done.

The last year that a Libertarian was on the ballot in the State of Oklahoma was 2000, when Harry Browne ran as a Libertarian against Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Ever since that election, the powers that be have decided that Oklahomans would be better off if they only had two choices on the Presidential ballot.

But do Oklahomans really just want two choices? Are Oklahomans really the same typical Coke or Pepsi political crowd? Not if the polls on party registration are any indication. In recent years, the percentage of people registering as Independents has been climbing while the percentage of people registering as Republicans and Democrats has been declining.

In fact, it has gotten so bad for the two major parties that the Oklahoma Democratic Party recently passed a resolution to allow Independents to vote in their primary elections.

It has become all by apparent that the two-party system is broken and Oklahomans are looking for another choice. The voters have gotten tired of the axiom that the government is the answer to all of society’s ills and they want a reduction in the size of government. They have grown weary of the government’s assault on individual liberty and constant surveillance into their private lives.

More than that, they want more choices at the ballot box.

To help make this a reality, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma has been gathering signatures to gain official recognition in the State of Oklahoma and get their party on the ballot in 2016.

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12 thoughts on “Oklahoma’s Signature Drive Featured in Red Dirt Report

  1. paulie

    Andy is good at handling all kinds of weather. He was able to stay out and keep working in Grand Forks, ND when it got below negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter of 2011 (minus 10 was my personal limit no matter how much warm gear I wore, since my face and finger tips still had to be uncovered to be able to petition), and (before I knew him) worked without shade in a Phoenix parking lot during the summer of 2000 where the soles of his shoes melted on the pavement. Personally, the hottest weather I have been able to tolerate for petitioning was 108 degrees in the shade.

    The weather in Oklahoma has actually been very reasonable since we have been here, but the biggest issues have been getting run out or hassled at public venues – we were illegally removed from Arts Festival Oklahoma, harassed by security and police at the H & 8th night market on the streets downtown, and right now the State Fair is telling us we will not be allowed to petition there. In the past we have been told we can’t petition at various places such as the sidewalk by entrance of the zoo, public sidewalks and parks, etc.

    If anyone reading can help us on the legal front with these location issues, or by calling some grocery stores and gas stations and getting us permission to work, it could mean the difference between success and failure on this ballot access drive. Finding places with decent foot traffic where we are not being run off has been by far the biggest impediment to getting signatures in Oklahoma so far.

  2. Andy

    Oklahoma is a more difficult than average state for petition signature gathering. Only 52% of the people are registered to vote, which means 48% are not registered to vote. We have been told that we can’t have people fill out voter registration forms and sign the petition the same day.

    The percent of the population that is registered to vote in California is lower, with only 47% of the people being registered to vote, however, in California petition circulators can carry voter registration cards and give them to people who are not registered, and if the person fills out the voter registration card at that moment, they can sign the petition right after that, and the signature on the petition will count just as long as the voter registration card gets turned in before, or at the same time, as the petition.

    Also, California has “open access,” for petition circulators, which means that petition circulators can go anywhere that is open to the general public, including storefronts. So in California, one can gather petition signatures, and/or voter registrations, in front of Walmart or Target or grocery stores or etc…, and they can’t legally kick you out. Now like with everything else, the law is not always followed in California, so petition circulators still encounter problems getting access to locations, but there are lot less problems getting access to locations in California than most other states, especially Oklahoma.

    Having “open access” to locations also has another advantage, and that is that you can more easily target areas where a higher percentage of the population is registered to vote. If you are in a state like Oklahoma, you may not be able to get any access to locations in an area where a higher percent of the population is registered to vote, or at least you would not be able to get access there for very long, because you could got there to collect signatures, but you would in a lot of cases be quickly run out by security guards or the police.

    Even though Oklahoma City is a big city (there are like 610,000 and something people in the city limits, plus more in the suburbs), it does not have any places that I’ve found that have much foot traffic on the public sidewalks, and the few places that do only have it once in a while. So you can’t do very well here on city sidewalks.

    They have also seem to have overbuilt on libraries, as in they have built more libraries than they really need, which means that the libraries are slow. Most of the ones I’ve looked at appear to be pretty worthless for signature gathering.

    I have not found any busy DMV’s either. They apparently call the DMV the DPS (Department of Public Safety) here. The two DPS buildings I’ve looked at were as slow as molasses. They have lots of their “privatized” tag agencies that are located in strip shopping centers. I have not seen any of these “privatized” tag agencies that are busy, but even if there was one, if it was in a strip shopping center they’d likely run us out with security guards or the police.

    Oklahoma also has a lot of counties, and every county on a party ballot access petition has to be on a separate page, even though there is no distribution requirement, and even though counties do not have to be separated on Oklahoma state wide ballot initiative petitions.

    I have worked on ballot access drives in 33 states (or technically, 32 states plus Washington DC), and I’d rank Oklahoma as one of the worst places for signature gathering.

    I’m not saying that you can’t get people to sign here, I’m just saying that with the low voter registration statistics, not being able to register people and have them sign the same day, and the lack of access to locations where there is lots of foot traffic, this is a more difficult than average state.

    Weather is also a factor here. It has been hot a few days, but the weather has not been too bad for the most part since I’ve been here (so far). Oklahoma has extreme heat in the summer, and it gets colder than one would expect for a state that is pretty far south in the winter. It gets pretty windy in Oklahoma as well, but wind has not been an issue so far.

  3. Andy

    Paul said: ” He was able to stay out and keep working in Grand Forks, ND when it got below negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter of 2011″

    This was actually in January of 2012.

  4. Andy

    I ran into a reporter at a farmers market, which is what led to this news story (this is yet another example of why it is important to have actual Libertarians in the field gathering signatures, as you never know who you will run encounter).

    I’ve also gotten two newspaper stories in Arkansas, one newspaper story in North Dakota, a newspaper story in USA Today in California (although I ended up not appearing in the story, I set it up), and I received TV news coverage in Pennsylvania.

  5. Andy

    Paul said: “but the biggest issues have been getting run out or hassled at public venues – we were illegally removed from Arts Festival Oklahoma,”

    This arts festival was open to the public for free, and it was held on the campus of a community college. I have a video recording of somebody from the arts festival and a cop illegally telling me that I had to leave the festival for collecting petition signatures. This would make a great law suit, but I’d probably require assistance in getting a law suit going. Who wants to help with this?

    “harassed by security and police at the H & 8th night market on the streets downtown,”

    This was a free festival that was open to the public. It was held on city streets (which were closed off for cars). I was harassed by a security guard there who called the police on me. I was then harassed by the police, that is until one of the three cops admitted that I had a legal right to be there, and they left me alone after that.

    “and right now the State Fair is telling us we will not be allowed to petition there. In the past we have been told we can’t petition at various places such as the sidewalk by entrance of the zoo, public sidewalks and parks, etc. ”

    I know for a fact that people have gathered petition signatures at the State Fair here in the past, and when I gather petition signatures in Oklahoma 10 years ago for a couple of ballot initiatives, I gathered signatures at the State Fairgrounds several times (the State Fair itself was not going on though, but I gathered signatures at other events there).

    The State Fair in Oklahoma is apparently a big deal and lots of people go to it, so if we could likely get lots of signatures there, but right now they are telling us that we can’t gather signatures at the State Fair.

    There is not really any realistic way get signatures from outside the State Fairgrounds either, as people drive their cars into the State Fairground parking lot, and the majority of people drive into the State Fairgrounds, so if you have to stand outside the State Fairgrounds, you will just stand their watching people drive by you.

    If they continue to deny us access to the State Fair, this will be grounds for another law suit.

  6. Richard Winger

    There is a bad precedent from the US Supreme Court about state fairgrounds and petitioning. The Fair can force petitioning groups to pay to rent a booth. I think the case was from Minnesota.

  7. Andy

    I spoke to an attorney in Oklahoma who said that years ago, some petitioners got arrested for gathering signatures at the State Fair, and it went to court, and the petition signature gatherers won at court.

  8. paulie

    There is a bad precedent from the US Supreme Court about state fairgrounds and petitioning. The Fair can force petitioning groups to pay to rent a booth. I think the case was from Minnesota.

    They are not giving us that option:

    I’m sorry to tell you that we have two rules at our event that would preclude you from those efforts on these grounds:

    1) We have a “booth rule” here at the Oklahoma State Fair meaning that all business, which includes advertising, marketing/PR as well as commercial sales, must be conducted from a contracted space, with fees, insurance and adherence to all of our exhibitor guidelines. No individual, whether having purchased a ticket or not, may conduct or promote a business or cause during our private event.

    2) Additionally, we strictly prohibit “petition” booths that would actively seek the signatures of patrons while on our grounds. We would allow a booth to be informational, meaning that you could “inform” people about your cause, but not actively gather signatures…however, we’d circle back to rule #1 which requires that you be contracted into a space and we’ve been sold out since early summer.

    If having an informational booth in 2016 would be of value to you, please know that we take applications all year long and keep them on file in case appropriate space becomes available. I can point you to our process and rules if this is of interest to you for next year.

    Thank you so much for checking in advance. We truly appreciate that as we wouldn’t want any folks working for your cause to come out here only to be stopped by our security when they could be elsewhere perhaps experiencing success for their efforts.

    Very best of luck to you – and we hope you’ll visit the Fair anyway for some fun.


    Gina Burchfiel

    Gina Burchfiel
    Vice President
    State Fair Division

  9. Andy

    A petition circulator in Oklahoma was kicked out of a library in Oklahoma City today by a library employee. We received a library policy pamphlet that says that petition circulating is banned at all libraries (I am not sure if it means all libraries in Oklahoma County, or all libraries in the state of Oklahoma).

    This is blatantly unconstitutional.

  10. paulie

    * Metropolitan Library System in OKCity and suburbs has a written and posted policy that specifically prohibits petitioning. I talked to an assistant branch manager at the Ralph Ellison branch where petitioner Jeff Carter was removed and threatened with arrest today and showed her rights paperwork detailing federal court rulings and she referred me to their downtown system office (Tim Rogers, director; Kay Bauman, deputy director 405-606-3819)

    * Myriad Botanical Gardens, a public park downtown OKC which had a free food festival that was open to the public with no admission charge (and regularly hosts other such events), said that the entire park is private property which is leased by a private trust that owns the botanical garden from the city. The OCPD backed this up and told Andy he had to cross the street, implying that the public sidewalks surrounding this public park which has events that are free and open to the public, are also “private property.” The security and police both refused to even look at rights paperwork.

    * Oklahoma Arts Festival which was a 3-day event, no admission charged, held at a public community college parking lot, kicked us out after half a day. Again, security and police refused to even look at rights paperwork. Andy has video of this incident and I believe also the one at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

    * A security guard and two police officers with OCPD told Andy that he had to leave downtown city sidewalks during the H & 8th night market, a monthly event which is free and open to the public. Fortunately, a third police officer admitted he had the right to be there, but that does not guarantee we will not run into the same problem this month or next month nor that we will end up prevailing the next time we get hassled.

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