By Patrick B. McGuigan | CapitolBeatOK
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Election Board removed the Americans Elect party from the November presidential election ballot Wednesday, effectively knocking out Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.
The decision was made based on the advice of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Earlier this summer, the state Americans Elect party had designated a slate of presidential electors and named Johnson as its candidate, even as the national party’s directors spiked the group’s nationwide drive to provide an alternative to the two major parties.
Secretary of the State Election Board Paul Ziriax said in a statement sent Wednesday morning to CapitolBeatOK:
“You have previously asked me about the conflicting instructions the State Election Board received from the Directors of the Americans Elect party and a local group claiming to on act on behalf of the Americans Elect party. (The Board of Directors of the party instructs that the Americans Elect party will not field any candidates for President or Vice President, while the local group instructs that the party has chosen candidates for President and Vice President – the same candidates chosen by the Libertarian Party in other states.)”
Ziriax said Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader advised the Election Board that it “should not place the Americans Elect Party president and vice-presidential candidates or presidential electors on the November 2012 general election ballot in Oklahoma.”
Ziriax told CapitolBeatOK, “Our staff will proceed with our general election ballot preparations accordingly.”
In his 20-page analysis of the legal questions involved, Leader said the national group retained control of the party’s ballot line, and the national directors’ decision held in the state.
Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, said Leader’s written opinion “contains no references to any court cases to justify his opinion.”
Winger contends the Election Board and Leader “have acted in a deceitful manner.”
Americans Elect gained ballot status in March after a successful petition campaign that enjoyed the support of David Boren, now president of the University of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma effort began with fanfare in January, achieving success in March, after a Libertarian-organized drive fell short of the required signatures. Oklahoma is widely considered one of the most difficult states for ballot access.
Just weeks ago, local activists submitted electors to state officials, in support of Johnson, but on a parallel track the national Americans Elect party informed the Election Board it was abandoning its drive “in all states in which Americans Elect has obtained a ballot access line” with the “unanimous written consent” of the national group’s directors.
Contact Patrick McGuigan at firstname.lastname@example.org.