Most agencies in Oklahoma received massive cuts to their budgets in 2016. The State Election Board was one of the few agencies that got an increase, with $688,000 topping up the budget to a total of $7.89 million.
The ballot this November is destined to be a full one. Along with the presidential election, a number of other questions are to be voted on. These include addressing food and agricultural practices, repealing an Article of the Oklahoma Constitution which prohibits public money being spent for religious purposes, liquor reform, and affirming capitol punishment. There is also a citizen led measure to increase the state sales tax by one percent to fund education.
According to Election Board secretary, Paul Ziriax, having five or six questions on the ballot is manageable, but any more takes the cost up significantly. A presidential election usually costs between $1.3 and $1.5 million. The newly topped up budget will need to pay for the state primaries in June, a possible run-off in August, the general election in November, and school board elections next February.
Although it is good that the election process is taken seriously and the Legislature has been careful to ensure adequate funding for the Election Board, I couldn’t help noticing the political and ideological agendas of the government that are being furthered by at least three out of the four questions. The food and agricultural practices question also know as the Right to Farm serves corporate interests at the expense of small farmers, the environment, and animal welfare. The repeal of the prohibition against public money being spent on religion allows monuments such as the ten commandments to be placed on state property. This seals the tie between government and religion that we should be frowning on. The death penalty affirmation is surely in response to the recent findings from the grand jury investigation over the state’s botched executions.
A yes vote on any of these questions will continue to propagate the very extreme conservative right wing positions and practices that we should be moving away from. I hope that people will vote a resounding NO.