The Oklahoma Supreme Court has agreed to consider including adult-use cannabis on the upcoming November ballot. This comes after Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws gathered enough signatures to bring State Question 820 to a statewide vote. But there’s a catch…
It took longer than usual to count the signatures and now it’s unclear if there is enough time to get the question printed on ballots ahead of the November 8th election. Someone’s clearly been dragging their feet, and it’s not the Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, who submitted their more than 164,000 signatures back in July. The statutory deadline to call a state question election for November was August 29th, but the company contracted to tally the signatures didn’t complete their count by that date.
And no, it’s not common practice in the Sooner State for an outside company to count signatures in this manner. The Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office typically counts signatures. But this year, they decided to contract with an outside agency to count the votes, which turned the typical two to three-week process into a seven-week ordeal.
Supporters of SQ 820 are not happy.
“Since filing their initiative more than six months ago, proponents have done everything in their power to expedite the unwieldy Oklahoma initiative petition process so the People of Oklahoma can exercise their right to vote on the measure at the next general election,” proponents wrote in a petition to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. “Yet they have been stymied by state officials (or their hand-picked vendors) who are either unable or unwilling to perform their administrative duties in a timely and efficient manner.”
Why the change? Well, thanks to false narratives about election fraud in 2020, Republican lawmakers recently introduced bills to make initiative petitions more difficult, including a law that provides more verification for voter signatures. Additionally, only signatures coming from registered voters count.
Proponents are working to get the question on the ballot this year. If unsuccessful, the governor could call a special election or it could instead be placed on the 2024 ballot.