State Rep. Joe Dorman said he will file legislation in 2013 to allow all registered voters to participate in primaries when there is no general election due to only candidates from one party filing for office.

State Rep. Joe Dorman said he will file legislation in 2013 to allow all registered voters to participate in primaries when there is no general election due to only candidates from one party filing for office.

 

“Elected officials should be chosen by a majority of registered voters. If there is no general election, those officials are chosen by the voters of a single political party. It is happening far too often. That’s why I will file legislation to ensure all registered voters have their voices heard,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs.

 

This year, 15 state-level candidates were selected in a primaries with no general election. Several more will be elected in a runoff, with no general election.

 

“Allowing all registered voters to participate helps ensure we have officials who represent the diversity of voices in his or her district,” said Dorman. “There is no valid reason why all voters, including those from the other major party and Independents, should not be allowed to ultimately help select the elected official who will represent the area.”

 

Dorman said there are several factors he intends to consider in drafting his legislation. One way to handle the open primaries would be to hold them at the same time as other primaries, in which case there would be an additional cost in drafting ballots. The other way would be to hold them at the same time as the general election. In the second scenario, the issue becomes straight-party voting, which would obviously not apply when all the candidates are from the same party.

 

“They say the devil is in the details and I plan to ensure I get the details right when filing time comes,” said Dorman. “I plan to consult with the state election board and others to ensure we make this reform in the most efficient, fairest way possible.”

 

Legislators will be allowed to pre-file bills and resolutions for introduction beginning after the swearing in of the new Oklahoma Legislature, which will occur two weeks following the general election on Nov. 6.