The City Sentinel Staff Report
Oklahoma’s 2020 candidate filing period for federal, state, and legislative offices will occur as scheduled, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced last week. The three-day filing period runs 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on April 8, 9, and 10.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary is encouraging candidates for federal, state, and legislative offices to file their paperwork, along with the required filing fee or petition, by mail or delivery service.
Candidates who file in-person will do so using a “drive-through” in the State Capitol parking lot. The “drive-through” will help maintain social distancing protocols in an effort to minimize risks to Election Board personnel and candidates.
The U.S. Senate seat presently held by Republican Jim Inhofe will be on the ballot, as will all five congressional seats, all state House districts and half of the state Senate.
The only non-federal statewide election this year will be for the Corporation Commission seat presently held by incumbent Todd Hiett.
Of the congressional races, the Fifth District seat (Oklahoma City and surrounding areas) now held by U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, a Democrat, has drawn wide interest. One Democrat and several Republicans have announced they will challenge Horn.
Secretary Ziriax said State Election Board personnel can review declarations of candidacy and cashier’s checks or certified checks ahead of time to ensure they are in good order. Candidates who would like their information reviewed prior to filing can email documents to [email protected]
Candidates should visit the State Election Board’s website at elections.ok.gov for specific details about candidate filing, such as delivery instructions or information about the “drive-through” filing procedures.
Candidates can also contact the State Election Board for details at (405) 521-2391 or [email protected].
“This is not an ideal situation for either election officials or candidates. But, with a little patience and a lot of precautions, we will get through the candidate filing period together,” Ziriax said.
Candidate filing for county offices will also be held April 8, 9, and 10 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Candidates should contact their County Election Board for specific filing instructions.
In the federal and one statewide non-federal race, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the vote to win nomination on June 30. If a candidate in a multi-candidate primary garners less than half the vote on primary day, she or he will face a runoff on August 25.
The Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties all have statewide ballot status on November 3 assured for party nominees. In Oklahoma, registered independents may participate in Democratic nomination elections.
Due to the current pandemic, some political leaders have sought to delay filing for federal, state and local elections. A range of local elections in 74 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, first set for Tuesday, April 7, have been delayed until later this year. Secretary Ziriaz allowed the delay under state law.
(Editor’s note: Although other dates are possible, the June 30 primary race already scheduled is the most likely date for those delayed local elections to be set.)
The Democratic National Committee announced the presidential nomination convention, scheduled for July, will be delayed until August 17-20. The Republican National Convention, where incumbent Donald Trump is almost certain to be renominated, is scheduled for August 24-27.
The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential elections be held every four years. There are no constitutional provisions for delaying the nation election, set this year for Tuesday, November 3. In Oklahoma, several referenda (citizen initiatives or measures sent to voters by the Legislature) may also appear on this year’s remaining ballots.
Note: Patrick B. McGuigan, founder of CapitolBeatOK.com and publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper, contributed to this report. He has covered Oklahoma politics and policy continuously since 1990. During the 1980s, McGuigan was editor of the Initiative and Referendum Report, which was in those years the nation’s leading monitor of the politics of direct democracy. A member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, he is the author or co-author of three books, and the editor of seven.