Because voters in the upcoming general election will be facing a lengthy ballot that includes 11 state questions, those who learn about the issues before entering the polls on Nov. 2 will be better informed than most of their peers.


Because voters in the upcoming general election will be facing a lengthy ballot that includes 11 state questions, those who learn about the issues before entering the polls on Nov. 2 will be better informed than most of their peers.

 

Former state election board secretary Lee Slater said voters who wait until they are in the voting booth to try to read the 11 state questions will not have time to understand each one.

 

State Question 750
This state question would modify the signature requirement for initiative and referendum petitions by basing percentage requirements on gubernatorial elections instead of presidential elections, which would likely lower the number of signatures required.

 

In other words, it would make it easier to put issues to a vote of the people.

 

“Citizens have successfully used the initiative process in the past, putting major reforms on the ballot.

 

For example, the petition process allowed voters to establish term limits for state lawmakers after a petition drive in the early 1990s,” Patrick B. McGuigan wrote on capitolbeatok.com. “But challenges facing initiative organizers increased for several years, thanks in large measure to court rulings.”

 

Of this year’s 11 state questions, only SQ 744 was included on this year’s ballot because of a signature drive. McGuigan said state lawmakers generally support the effort to make the initiative process easier for citizens.

 

“Senate Joint Resolution 13, which placed State Question 750 on this November’s ballot, passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a bipartisan 78-17 vote in 2009,” he wrote. “The measure cleared the state Senate by an overwhelming 42-2 vote.”

 

Both gubernatorial candidates, Mary Fallin and Jari Askins, support the measure.

 

State Question 751
State Question 751 would require that all official state actions be conducted in English, with exceptions for Native American languages and when federal law requires other languages be used. It also prohibits lawsuits against the state or its subdivisions for failure to use languages other than English.

 

Thirty other states have declared English as their official language. State Sen. Harry Coates, who helped write the proposed constitutional amendment, told the Tulsa World the impact would be slight.

 

"It doesn’t do a lot,” he said. “It just makes a statement that we want to conduct business in English. I don’t have any problem with that.”

 

House Joint Resolution 1042, which placed State Question 751 on the ballot, passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a bipartisan 89-8 vote while the measure cleared the state Senate on a 44-2 vote.

 

The League of Women Voters opposes the amendment, saying it discriminates against new citizens in their ability to transact normal business in the state.

 

“Government forms are difficult enough when English is a citizen’s first language,” the group said.

 

“When English is a citizen’s second language, the state should be as accommodating and responsive to Oklahomans as businesses are.”

 

They also said the language in the proposition is confusing, which would encourage constitutional challenges.

 

Both Fallin and Askins support the measure.
 

 

State Question 752
State Question 752 would add two at-large members to the Judicial Nominating Commission appointed by the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore. Neither appointee can be a lawyer or have a lawyer in their immediate family.

 

McGuigan explained the state question as follows.

 

“Currently, when a state judicial vacancy occurs, the Judicial Nominating Commission selects nominees to serve as judges or justices. The commission often advances three to four names to the governor, who then must appoint one of the nominees,” he wrote. “Under the current system, the governor appoints six of the 13 existing members of the Judicial Nominating Commission. Those appointees cannot be lawyers and must include at least one member from each congressional district.

 

“Another six members of the current commission are lawyers who are members of the Oklahoma Bar Association and selected by members of that organization, with at least one lawyer-member from each congressional district. Currently, the 13th Commission member is an at-large member (who must also be a lawyer) selected by the other 12 members.”

 

McGuigan said critics felt that setup placed too much control over the state judiciary in the hands of the legal profession, particularly the Oklahoma Bar Association.

 

Senate Joint Resolution 27, which placed State Question 752 on the ballot, passed by a 51-34 vote in the state House and a 25-21 vote in the state Senate, receiving the bare majority required to pass in each chamber.

 

While not taking a position on the proposition, District Judge Tom Walker said should the question pass, “you’ve injected partisan politics into the selection of judges.”

 

Fallin supports the measure, and Askins opposes it.