Criticism Ignites Over "Impossible" Oklahoma Petition Demands

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014, 5:10 pm
By: News 9

Criticism over how to petition the government is now being expressed after three petitions recently failed.

Advocates say the state's demands are impossible. All three petitions failed to gather enough signatures in time. And supporters feel if Oklahoma were like other states, each petition would have a different outcome.

"It's basically setting Oklahomans up for failure, which is just a travesty," said Amy Hilterbran, who advocates for Medical Marijuana to help her son.

Failure was not an option for Hilterbran, when earlier this year she spent 90 days collecting signatures to put the issue of medical marijuana on the November ballot.

"People who gather these signatures are taking their own time. They're taking off work. They're using their own gas money," said Hilterbran.

But like Hilterbran, those involved with Take Shelter Oklahoma feel the same way about the state's petition requirements.

"The initiative petition process is extremely difficult, if not impossible," said David Slane with Take Shelter Oklahoma

Both Take Shelter Oklahoma and Medical Marijuana were initiatives for Constitutional Change. In Oklahoma that requires 15% of the gubernatorial vote, or just over 155,000 signatures, collected in 90 days.

Texas requires 10% of the vote collected in 180 days.

Arkansas requires 10% or 78,000 signatures to be collected in a time frame that's unlimited.

Missouri requires 8% or about 157,000 signatures and the time frame varies but it could be up to 17 months.

Colorado asks for 5% of the total votes cast for the Secretary of State which is just over 86,000 signatures which must be collected six months.

Those comparisons have Amy begging for change.

"If we could have really only altered one of those elements, the petition would have passed and we'd be voting for medical marijuana and storm shelters in November," said Hilterbran.

Now there will be a vote for Governor in November. And in response to this issue, Joe Dorman said the petition process is absolutely broken. 

A spokesperson for Gov. Mary Fallin issued the following statement in regards to Dorman's comments:

"The governor would be willing to consider responsible changes to the petition process if the Legislature pursues them. However, if Representative Dorman thinks the petition process is 'broken' he should have used his 12 years in the legislature to fix it. He seems to have spent a lot of time talking about issues and very little time as a lawmaker actually passing laws or delivering meaningful reforms that help Oklahomans." -Alex Weintz

Currently there is no known legislation to change the process.