At Oklahoma state Capitol, surge of candidate filings expected June 7, 8 and 9

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 02-Jun-2010

State election official are bracing for large surge of candidate filings for Oklahoma’s federal, state legislative and judicial offices, beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, June 7. Officials are prepared for a potential record number of candidate filings. Candidates for county positions file at county election boards across the state.

Officials hours for filing are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the state Capitol, N.E. 23rd and Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. The process formally begins with the filing on the fifth floor, under the supervision of state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax and his staff.

With at least 10, and potentially as many as 12, statewide ballot propositions, elections officials today told Capitol reporters they are working to keep the state ballot confined to a single page (both sides).

The final number of November ballot propositions will be settled within the next two weeks, as Governor Brad Henry decides on remaining proposals on his desk. Although highly unlikely, going to a second page for the state ballot would cost taxpayers another $400,000, something election officials want to avoid, Ziriaz said.

Federal positions facing election this year include one U.S. Senator and all five of the state’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Oklahoma elects more statewide officials than most American states. On the ballot this year will be the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, auditor & inspector, attorney general, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of labor, insurance commissioner and (one) corporation commissioner. 

Also standing for election in 2010 will be 24 of the 48 state Senators (those with even-numbered districts), and all 101 members in the House of Representatives.

Fees for filing range from $1,500 for governor and $1,000 for U.S. Senator to $200 for state representatives and district judges. For statewide positions, the filing fee is $500. Forms must be turned in to election officials at the Capitol; they cannot be faxed, mailed or emailed. However, surrogates may turn in properly notarized forms for candidates.

In 2006, a total of 594 candidates filed for office in Oklahoma, compared to 574 in 2002. Officials expect 600 or more candidate filings, election board Secretary Paul Ziriax told reporters on Wednesday (June 2).

Reporters asked Ziriax if he thought recent signs of increased political activism would lead to higher-than-normal candidate filings. Ziriax disclosed he and the election staff have “been fielding a lot of phone calls” and other inquiries in recent weeks.

National observers are speculating in numerous publications and online postings that a record number of congressional candidates might emerge this year, but it is not clear that will be the case in Oklahoma. Republicans appear resurgent in the Sooner State.

After partisan dominance throughout state history, Democrats now are roughly 49% of all registered voters, with Republicans at 40% and the remainder independent. The ranks of independent voters have been increasing in recent years. In opinion polls, voters describe themselves as independent in numbers higher than actual registration.

Mondays are the most active filing day, according to data Ziriax and his staff presented. In recent years, 62 to 70% of all filings take place by the close of business on Monday. Tuesdays are comparatively quiet, then a modest surge comes on Wednesdays (right up to the last minute, CapitolBeatOK was told).

Candidates withdrawing candidacy must do so by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 18. Challenges to candidate qualifications face the same deadline, and a $250 fee. Qualification challenges will be decided on Friday, June 18. 

This year’s elections will be: Primary July 27; Runoff August 24 and General November 2.

Chairman of the state Election Board is Tom Prince of Oklahoma City. Susan Turpen is the vice-chairman. The third member is Ramon Watkins of Tulsa. 

Basic information about candidate filing procedures is available at the website of the Oklahoma State Election Board.