- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Libertarian and Green parties announced plans Monday to launch signature drives to have their parties and candidates officially recognized in Oklahoma.

Representatives of the two groups held a news conference in the rotunda at the state Capitol to announce that despite their political differences, the two parties planned to work together on the signature effort.

“A majority of Oklahomans want more choices on the ballot,” said Micah Gamino, a Green Party representative for the group Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform. “We believe that competition is good for democracy.”

The two parties have submitted formal notice to the Oklahoma Election Board, which is a required step to get their candidates listed on the ballot by party.

Gamino and other officials with the two parties hope a new state law will aid in their effort. Under current law, political parties are required to gather signatures from registered voters equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the last general election for governor or president, which would be about 41,000 based on 2014 turnout in the governor’s race.

But a new law that takes effect Nov. 1 will reduce that number to 3 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, which would be about 25,000 signatures.

Even with the lower threshold, Oklahoma still has one of the most difficult requirements for getting a political party recognized in the state, said Tina Kelly, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma.

The last political party outside of Republican or Democrat to gain recognition in Oklahoma was Americans Elect, which launched an effort to have a presidential candidate on the ballot in 2012, but the party never selected a nominee.

Both the Reform and Libertarian parties successfully gathered enough signatures to become recognized parties in Oklahoma in 2000, but their candidates did not receive the 10 percent of votes needed to continue as a political party. In that year’s general election, neither Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan nor Libertarian Harry Browne received more than 1 percent of the vote.

The two groups plan to have a training event for volunteer signature gatherers at 1 p.m. Saturday at the public library in downtown Oklahoma City.

They have until March 1 to gather the requisite number of signatures.

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