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Judge tosses lawsuit challenging Oklahoma ballot access

A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's ballot access laws.

Two presidential candidates — Green Party candidate Jill Stein and progressive Rocky De La Fuente — and some of their supporters filed the federal lawsuit against the Oklahoma State Election Board in August, claiming the state's ballot access laws are biased against independent and third-party candidates.

Plaintiffs in the case had argued that the number of signatures and deadline requirements for third-party presidential candidates to get on the ballot in Oklahoma are unreasonable. Oklahoma also does not allow write-in candidates. The plaintiffs also had argued that Oklahoma has different ballot access laws for third-party candidates for statewide offices than for presidential candidates.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Friot rejected that argument in an eight-page ruling dated Dec. 13, noting the higher importance of a presidential election.

"The presidential office is the most important office in the nation, and it is the only office which is elected by state electors, facts which justify more rigorous ballot access rules for election to this office as compared to the office of senator," Friot said in the ruling.

James Linger, a Tulsa attorney who represented the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit still could be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a decision has not yet been made.

"Oklahoma has one of the most severe requirements in the United States, as a result, Oklahoma consistently has not had other candidates on the ballot," Linger said.

When Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson appeared on the Oklahoma ballot in the November election, it was the first-third party presidential candidate to make it onto the Oklahoma ballot in 16 years, Linger noted.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›