Many people have asked about the seven State Questions on the November 8th ballot. This is an overview only and you will have to make the final decision on how you intend to vote for yourself. In this post we have provided an overview as well as links to the official language (not just the summary on the ballot) and links to both a conservative think tank and a liberal think tank to provide other perspectives on the state questions. Hopefully this helps you make an informed decision before you vote.
SQ776- Death Penalty
By voting in favor on this state question it would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to include the death penalty as a means of execution. If you favor capital punishment, you would vote Yes on this question. It does not prescribe the exact method of execution, but creates the Constitutional framework for the Legislature to then define further. I will be voting YES.
Link to actual language that will be added to the Oklahoma Constitution: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/776.pdf
SQ777- Right to Farm
By voting in favor on this state question it would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to include Constitutional protections for farmers and ranchers. Those opposed to the measure say it will eliminate all existing regulations, which is not true. It has a clause to keep in effect all prior regulations. They also claim that it will prohibit future regulations and will pollute our waters. This is also not true. The state question includes a provision for the legislature to regulate in the future, but it must be with a compelling state interest, meaning the burden is on the state to prove why they must regulate it rather than on the farmer. I will be voting YES.
Link to actual language that will be added to the Oklahoma Constitution: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/777.pdf
SQ779- Boren sales tax increase
By voting in favor on this state question it will increase our statewide sales tax by an extra 1% making us one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, even higher than places like California and New York. Since our cities mostly rely on sales tax, this will actually harm them as more people choose to shop online or in neighboring states for a better deal. In addition, this is being presented as a pay raise for teachers, but it is neglectfully mentioned that not all the money will go to teachers and a substantial portion of it will go to Higher Education. There are many other solutions that are being worked on to get our teachers the pay raise they deserve. In essence, Boren is using the teacher pay raise to get millions of dollars for himself and higher education. I will be voting NO.
Link to actual language that will be added to the Oklahoma Constitution: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/779.pdf
SQ780- Criminal Justice reform
By voting in favor on this state question it will amend Oklahoma statutes (rather than the State Constitution) to lower certain crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. In recent years there has been a move to “throw the book at them” and make crimes into felonies. I am a proponent of the punishment fitting the crime and in many instances a felony conviction is excessive, especially since it makes it a huge challenge for the person to find a job or reintegrate into society after serving their time. Combined with SQ781 it will focus more on addiction services and getting people the help they need. I will be voting YES.
Link to actual language that will be changed in the Oklahoma statutes: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/780.pdf
SQ781- Smart Justice Reform Act
By voting in favor on this state question it will add to our Oklahoma statutes (again, statues rather than amending the Constitution) to compliment SQ780 by taking the cost savings that the state would incur by not having so many felony convictions and using those funds for rehabilitative services. I will be voting YES.
Link to actual language that will be added to the Oklahoma statutes: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/781.pdf
SQ790- Repeals the Blaine Amendment
By voting in favor on this state question it will repeal the section of our State Constitution that the State Supreme Court misconstrued in the case to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds. The current provision says that no government property or money can be used directly or indirectly for the benefit of any denomination or religion. By keeping this in the Constitution the court could further misconstrue it to say that entities such as St Francis and St John’s hospitals can no longer participate in government service since they have religious affiliations. This is just one of numerous possibilities that the court could manipulate using this provision unless it is repealed. I will be voting YES.
Link to actual language that will be repealed from the Oklahoma Constitution: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/790.pdf
SQ792- Alcohol reform
By voting in favor on this state question it will repeal our current alcohol laws from the Oklahoma Constitution and replace them with similar but updated laws. Some of the changes include the ability to have wine shipped into Oklahoma, cold beer being sold in stores and supermarkets, and liquor stores being able to sell supplies instead of just liquor. There are still several provisions that are not free market based, and very little of this should be put back in the Oklahoma Constitution. A minimal framework should have been created in the Constitution for the Legislature to then address in statute. I personally don’t drink, but believe that adults can make those decisions for themselves. I will not be voting either YES or NO on this measure and will instead leave it to the rest of the voters to decide.
Link to actual language that will be added to the Oklahoma Constitution: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/792.pdf
Other helpful links:
Conservative think tank positions on state questions: http://www.ocpathink.org/article/voters-guide-to-ballot-measures
Liberal think tank positions on state questions: http://okpolicy.org/2016-oklahoma-state-question-guide/
State election board website to find your polling place and sample ballot: https://services.okelections.us/voterSearch.aspx
State election board link to information on all the state questions: https://www.ok.gov/elections/Election_Info/State_Question_info.html