Green Party Presidential Nominee Howie Hawkins is suing Oklahoma election officials over what he claims are unreasonable deadlines and filing fees in the state that have blocked him and other alternative candidates from securing their names on the November ballot.
Hawkins filed the lawsuit against the Oklahoma State Election Board on July 15 in federal court in Oklahoma City.
In an interview with The Frontier, Hawkins said he’s suing on behalf of all independent and third-party candidates to gain easier access to the ballot in Oklahoma.
Hawkins is an environmental activist from New York and cofounder of the Green Party of the United States.
“There are a number of independent and alternative party candidates who are serious,” he said. “They are offering platforms that differ from the Democrats and Republicans. And the voters of Oklahoma should have all the options on the ballot. It’s only fair to them.”
Oklahoma law requires presidential candidates who are independent or from an unrecognized political party to collect signatures from 2 percent of registered voters, or pay an an alternative $35,000 filing fee.
Hawkins said he believes the fee is excessive and designed to keep him and other alternative candidates off the ballot.
Three independent presidential candidates have opted to pay the filing fee in order to appear on the November ballot in Oklahoma, including rapper Kayne West, former child actor and Bitcoin investor Brock Pierce, and classical pianist Jade Simmons.
The state currently only recognizes candidates from the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties. Oklahoma also does not give voters the option to write-in the names of alternative candidates.
In 2016, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and the progressive candidate Rocky De La Fuente unsuccessfully sued for access to the Oklahoma ballot on similar grounds.
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