Pubdate: Wed, 24 Aug 2016
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2016 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Author: Randy Ellis


An initiative petition to let Oklahomans vote on whether to legalize 
marijuana for medicinal purposes has enough signatures to potentially 
get on the ballot, Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge announced Tuesday.

Backers of the petition say they hope to get the issue on the 
November ballot, but state officials say time constraints may make 
that impossible. If the issue fails to make the November ballot, 
voters still might get a chance to vote on it later during a special 
election or the 2018 primary or general election, officials said.

The secretary of state's office counted 67,761 signatures for the 
proposed state question, which is 1,774 more than the 65,987 
signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot.

The latter number represents 8 percent of the 824,831 ballots cast in 
the 2014 gubernatorial election.

In order for the issue to be placed on the November ballot, the state 
Election Board would need to receive a proclamation from the governor 
by Friday stating the issue is ready to be placed on the ballot, said 
Bryan Dean, spokesman for the state Election Board.

However, before that can happen there are several steps in a process 
that must be followed for the issue to qualify for placement on the ballot.

"As required by law, the secretary of state's office will send a 
report on its findings to the Oklahoma Supreme Court," the secretary 
of state's office said in a news release.

"The state Supreme Court determines whether the number of signatures 
counted is sufficient for the proposal to be placed on an election ballot."

Oklahoma's attorney general is then given five business days to 
review the ballot title.

"If the proposed title is found noncompliant, the attorney general 
has 10 business days to submit a rewritten ballot title," the news 
release said. "The next step will be notification to the press to 
announce publicly that any member of the public can, within 10 
business days, challenge the signatures and/or the proposed ballot 
title. When the measure has cleared all legal hurdles, it can qualify 
to be placed on a ballot for a vote of the people."

Joe Dorman, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and spokesman 
for the group that backed the petition, said the group still hopes to 
get the issue on the November ballot and he hopes state officials 
will do everything possible to make that happen.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything ... proceeds 
expeditiously through the process," Dorman said.

"Surely there's got to be a way that can be worked out," Dorman said 
of efforts to obtain a November vote on the issue.

Dorman said there are two sides to the ballot, so perhaps the 
printers can print one side first and add the medicinal marijuana 
question to the second side of the ballot later.

Dorman said he would like to avoid a special election on the issue 
because he's been told that would cost about $1.2 million.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom