Oklahoma Bill to Raise Filing Fees Advances

Ballot Access News

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.

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