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Oklahoma update‏

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Thanks to our donors and more petitioners, we have continued the Oklahoma petition drive.

Since we are going forward with the drive, I need your help to pay to finish it.

Please click here to donate.

I’d especially like to thank Michael Chastain, of Austin, Texas, for mailing a $4,000 check towards the Oklahoma petition drive. His quick response to my last email for support (telling me a check was on the way) gave me the energy to push forward.

About three weeks ago, I wrote about the serious help we needed for Oklahoma.

After trying to avoid the cost of a trip to Oklahoma, I finally decided I needed to visit Oklahoma to see the petition drive directly. I needed to see if I thought things could be improved, or if I thought we should just shut it down.

We had been hearing about how hard it was to find petitioners and good places to petition, among other problems, and I wanted to take a closer look at all aspects of the petition drive for myself. Our ballot access committee chair, William Redpath, had been urging me to go for several days.

I finally went to Oklahoma, and here’s what I found:

  • We had a great organizer in Oklahoma, the OKLP Vice Chair, Tina Kelly.
  • The alleged stack of over 11,000 signatures actually existed and appeared to be legitimate. (Not that I had serious doubts, but it’s always good to see them for yourself.)
  • Tina’s son had recently put the registered voter database online to help with verifying the signatures.
  • The LP Kentucky’s former state chair, Ken Moellman, was ready to help more with the registered voters database.
  • There was an ice storm the day I arrived, but of course we weren’t going to be able to do anything about the weather.
  • We didn’t have near enough petitioners collecting signatures.
  • One of our professional petitioners, Paul Frankel, was willing to help get more petitioners on the job, but needed some help getting a makeshift office running in his motel room.

We can hope for help on the legal front, we can hope for good weather, and we can hope that more places would allow us to petition on their properties, but I did not want to count on any of that.

It was clear to me that what we need to do more than anything was to recruit a lot more paid petitioners to help out. And we were going to have to raise the budget to get the drive done in time. Our emails like this, as well as many phone calls to recruit petitioners are working.

Paul Frankel sums things up well:

“We are also starting to make some good progress on replacing the petitioners that left Oklahoma, with several new petitioners recruited, on their way, considering coming, and in one case already back with reinforcements. And, we are starting to make some progress on the legal front to address the harassment at public places where we have a Constitutional right to petition.”

I can confirm what Paul says. In just three weeks we’ve recruited enough new petitioners so that we’ve gone from averaging about 1,000 signatures per week for the first 16 weeks, to over 3,000 signatures per week for the past three weeks. That’s what we needed to do.

To help, you can reach Paul by phone or text at 205-534-1622, paulie.frankel@lp.org or facebook.com/paulie.cannoli. (You don’t have to be from Oklahoma, but travel expenses are not reimbursed.)

The Libertarian National Committee held a special meeting last Monday just for Oklahoma, and they decided to continue the drive. But they had to raise the budget by $20,000 for the effort. That increase in the budget hurts. Some people have asked if it is worth it, and I understand the concern. We don’t have extra money lying around.

Ballot access expert Richard Winger notes that the Libertarian Party has had success lowering ballot access retention requirements in 28 states in the last 40 years (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). He says it’s helpful for us to get on the ballot in states like Oklahoma for when it comes time to lobby them for reduced requirements. Richard Winger contributed $30,000 himself for this petition drive.

We need to get this done, and quickly, so we can focus on other states.

Thanks again goes to all of our previous donors.

Will you help us reach our online fundraising goal for Oklahoma today?

Click here to donate, or visit LP.org/oklahoma

Sincerely,

Wes Benedict, Executive Director

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