Oklahoma Fights Back!

October 26, 2007

              Dear Libertarian,

              At the beginning of the month, I wrote to you regarding our situation in Oklahoma. As you may recall, we are assisting a coalition of third parties and independents in their fight to ease ballot access restrictions in the state.

              The group, Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform (OBAR), is in the beginning stages of a petition drive that would place the issue of ballot access before the voters in the state. They have a goal of collecting over 100,000 signatures within a 90-day window (as required by the state).

              If successful, they will reduce the signature threshold for ballot access from 46,000 to 5,000. This will be a significant improvement as, for instance, the literal choice for voters in Oklahoma in 2004 was either to vote for Bush or for Kerry or not vote at all. Oklahomans cannot even write-in their choice for president.

              They are making progress on the drive, but the State of Oklahoma is already starting to fight back against OBAR and other citizen groups that want to initiate reforms using the ballot initiative process.

              Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Shelton, a Democrat, has come out stating that he will propose a bill that would outlaw paying petitioners on a per-signature basis (which is the industry standard).

              Why is Rep. Shelton proposing this? He says it's because "These matters are too important to allow snake-oil salesmen to bend the facts and flat-out lie just to fatten their paychecks."

              In reality, if Rep. Shelton were to get his way, it would all but kill the initiative process in Oklahoma, making it very difficult and expensive to conduct petition drives as we would have to pay petitioners per-hour or per-day with no incentives for performance.

              Unfortunately, Rep. Shelton's obstructive ways are just the tip of the iceberg in Oklahoma.

              Shortly after I relayed my last message, an indictment was brought against libertarian activist Paul Jacob. Paul faces 10 years in prison.

              His supposed crime?

              He attempted to get a Taxpayer Bill of Rights on the ballot that would cap spending by the state government. During the drive, the Oklahoma Attorney General claims out-of-state petitioners were used, supposedly violating state law that requires petitioners be OK residents. However, residency in Oklahoma is an ambiguous "intent to stay."

              Here's what Paul Jacob has to say about the indictment: "This indictment is not about the law, but about politics-ugly, anti-democratic politics. Their prosecution is a 100-percent politically-motivated attempt to threaten and intimidate me, and any other citizen wishing to petition their government."

              I've asked Paul to write a letter explaining his situation to you directly, and I hope to send that very soon.

              As I write this letter to you, and as the State of Oklahoma declares open season on initiatives and petitioners, Libertarian Party National Chairman William Redpath stands on Oklahoma soil assisting volunteers who are Oklahoma residents in petitioning for OBAR.

              As events began to unfold over the last few weeks, Bill made the decision to set aside his packed schedule and head to Oklahoma to help the local volunteer effort.

              As a Libertarian, like the rest of us, Bill will not allow himself to be intimidated by the State, and is only emboldened to act when a government uses force or fraud against any efforts for liberty.

              When I spoke with Bill yesterday, he was in the lobby of a supermarket helping a petitioner attract people to sign the ballot access petition.

              While Bill and other volunteers work across the state, dozens of other paid petitioners are collecting signatures to meet the goal of over 100,000 names.

              Over $100,000 will be needed to pay the petitioners and cover the costs of the petition drive.

              When I wrote last, we needed to raise $20,000 for this effort in order for an anonymous donor to contribute a total of $60,000. While many generous Libertarians donated to the effort, we came up $8,360 short.

              We need your help to make up the difference.

              Our chairman has already personally given $1,000 to this initiative. In addition, he's committing nine days in Oklahoma at his own expense to help with the efforts.

              I've also given what I could and contributed $500.

              Our national secretary from St. Louis, Bob Sullentrup, went so far as to spend his weekend in Oklahoma assisting petitioners.

              We are deeply committed to this effort and, if you have not already done so, I ask that you show your support as well.

              Can you help with this fight?

              A gift of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or another amount will go a long way in easing ballot access laws in the most restrictive state in the nation forever.

              If we win this fight, despite the power of the state government being used against us, we will greatly ease access to the ballot for ALL political parties and independents!

              Our chairman, many others and myself have already made significant contributions to this effort. Additionally, countless students in Oklahoma are volunteering their time, and even tribal nations have helped by opening their properties to our volunteers.

              Please do all that you can to help by making a contribution today by clicking here.

              Thank you for your time and for all that you do for our party.

              In Liberty,

              Shane Cory
              Executive Director
              Libertarian National Committee

              P.S. We still need to raise $8,360 to meet our fundraising goal of $20,000. In the event that we exceed this goal or if unused funds remain, they will be applied to completing ballot access drives in other states (currently running in North Carolina, South Dakota and Nebraska). Please do all that you can and contribute today by clicking here.