Monday, February 22nd, the Libertarian Party delivered more than 42,000 signatures to the Oklahoma State Election Board. Once these signatures are verified, the party will be officially recognized as a political party. This move will allow voters to register as members of the party and Libertarian candidates to run for office.
The Libertarian party favors personal freedom, free markets and peace, according to officials. The Vice Chair of the Oklahoma party, Tina Kelly, said a core belief of the party is “Minimum Government. Maximum Freedom.” Oklahomans who don’t feel represented by the current two parties have been very supportive and enthusiastic, she added.
The presidential election of 2000 was the last time Oklahoma had a Libertarian candidate. Harry Browne ran as a Libertarian against George W. Bush and Al Gore. Fifteen years later, on March 6, 2015, the Libertarian Party filed their intent to form another political party. Since then, they have been working to collect the required number of signatures to be registered as a party: 24,745. This number is 3 percent of all ballots cast during the previous general election for governor, as required by the state.
Once the signatures are verified, Libertarian candidates can appear on the ballot on June 28. If the party does make the ballot, it would need 10 percent of the vote in the presidential race to remain registered as a party. If the party fails to garner such support, more signatures would be needed to qualify for the 2018 general election. Oklahoma only recognizes Democratic and Republican parties, so any additional parties must maintain this 10 percent threshold to retain its party status. Legislation this session could reduce the required votes from 10 percent to 2.5 percent.
Kelly believes adding another candidate in political races would increase competition and provide voters with more choices. The chair of the Libertarian National Committee, Nicholas Sarwark, hopes to one day have a Libertarian option in every state.
The Libertarian party is the third largest political party in the US, and believes it represents the best of the Republicans and Democrats.
While it disagrees with the left’s positions on gun control, increased government spending, government regulation of the economy and military inventions, for example, it shares the left’s views on other matters. These include tolerance of others’ choices, separation of church and state and support of same-sex marriage. On the right, it doesn’t support the war on drugs, corporate welfare or government actions in moral issues; however, Libertarians believe in merit-based advancement, less government spending and respect of property rights.
According to the national Libertarian party, voters should abandon the two traditional parties because the current government is “too large, too expensive, woefully inefficient, arrogant, intrusive and downright dangerous.” Policies of the party stem from a belief in individual rights. Respect for these rights would result in a free-market economy, personal freedom and a foreign policy that emphasizes non-intervention, peace and free trade. “Live and let live is the Libertarian way,” according to the Oklahoma party website. In this vein, governments should not violate the right to life, liberty of speech and action or the right to property.