Governor’s Special Election On Marijuana Will Cost Taxpayers $1.3 Million


Wednesday, October 19th 2022, 5:36 pm



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After months of trying to get State Question 820 on the November ballot, the Oklahoma Supreme Court shot down petitioners. 

This Tuesday, Governor Kevin Stitt called a special election for Oklahomans to vote on recreational marijuana. 

The group advocating for SQ820, YesOn820, turned in more signatures than required for the question to get on the ballot. They turned those signatures in a month before their deadline. 

"We're very, very excited after years of work and all of the delays we faced," said Michelle Tilley, Campaign Director for Yes On 820.   

Now, Oklahoman’s will have the opportunity to vote on the measure, but it will cost taxpayers a pretty penny. 

"It's going to cost money," said News 9 Political Analyst, Scott Mitchell. 

The State Board of Elections said the March Special Election will cost the state upwards of $1.3 million. 

"The election board is going to have to have the legislature get an appropriation. They got funded for two statewide elections next year. They're going to have to get some more," explained Scott. 

It all comes back to the signatures and how much time it took to verify them. According to YesOn820, the Secretary of State’s office told them it would take three weeks. The new software to verify them messed up the process. 

The State Supreme Court, in their decision to omit SQ820 from the November Ballot passed the blame to the Secretary of State's office and their new software. The decision read, "any delays to the process were caused by the Secretary of State's 'learning curve' associated with the use of the new." That software comes from third party contractor Western Petition Systems LLC. 

The company charged the state $300,000 a year to verify signatures. Their systems failed and they were forced to verify signatures by hand.  

Governor Stitt could have intervened in the process in August, but instead waited until now. 

"From an electoral standpoint, there are some people angry this didn't get on the general election so some people can be motivated to turn out and vote against the Governor for not doing anything on this," explained Scott. 

Neither Western Petitions Systems LLC or the Secretary of State's Office responded to News 9's request for comments. 


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