Oklahoma Cannabis Legalization Question May Miss Ballot Due to Signature Counting Delays

Oklahoma’s adult-use cannabis legalization question may be blocked from November ballots due to a delay in signature counting by a new vendor contracted by the state.

Full story after the jump.

Oklahoma voters may not have their chance to vote on adult-use cannabis legalization in November, despite meeting the signature threshold, because the state’s new private vendor used to verify and count signatures took too long to process the petition, KFOR reports. The Vote Yes on 802 Campaign had submitted 20,000 more signatures than the statute requires.

The deadline to print ballots is August 26 and the Secretary of State’s Office verified the signatures on Monday; however, Michelle Tilley, with the campaign, explained that “the count has to be certified by the court” and had to have a 10-day publication period in the newspaper which “will all be completed just a few days” after Friday’s deadline.

“So, we know people in Oklahoma want this and at least they want to vote on it. … The state has really dropped the ball in their new count process.” — Tilley to KFOR

She described the failure as “unprecedented” in the state.  

“Generally, a petition of our size, it takes about five to seven days to count,” she explained to KFOR. “For example, the Medicaid expansion petition, which had twice as many signatures as ours, only took 17 days.” 

The campaign has filed a petition with the Oklahoma State Supreme Court to intervene. They are asking the court to allow ballots with the question printed on them to be produced while the process finishes. 

“Because of a new electronic process instituted and used for the first time on this initiative, however, the Secretary’s signature count ended up taking much longer than anyone had anticipated,” the legalization campaign contends in the lawsuit. “Instead of the 2-3 weeks expected by the parties (and by the Secretary’s office, as the undersigned counsel was informed prior to turn-in), the electronic signature verification and count – conducted by an inexperienced private vendor pursuant to a no-bid contract lingered on for nearly 7 weeks.” 

In the lawsuit, the campaign describes the delay as “unexpected” and “inexplicable.”  

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