Dollens Request Ballot Initiative Study to Illuminate Attempts to Undermine Direct Democracy
Ponca City Now - June 21, 2023 6:32 am
State Rep. Mickey Dollens
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) has submitted a request for an interim study on the topic of preserving and defending the citizen-led ballot initiative process in Oklahoma.
The Democratic lawmaker wrote a letter to the Oklahoma Speaker of the House requesting the study.
“The purpose of this requested study is to illuminate attempts that have been made to undermine the citizen-led ballot initiative process, which serve as a cornerstone of our democratic system,” Dollens writes in the letter. “By thoroughly examining these threats, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand and explore strategies to fortify and enhance the process.”
Dollens, a committed advocate for the democratic rights of Oklahoma citizens, has observed a troubling trend in the legislature, particularly among Republican lawmakers who have introduced several bills aimed at stifling the ballot initiative process. These attempts threaten to undermine a tool of direct democracy that Oklahomans have utilized since statehood.
“Oklahoma has a proud history of citizen-led initiatives that have driven significant policy changes,” said Dollens. “The power to shape our public policy includes the citizens of Oklahoma, extending beyond solely elected officials and special interest groups. This study aims to shed light on attempts to compromise this vital democratic process and explore ways to reinforce it.”
Dollens has seen firsthand attempts to curtail the democratic process as a member of the House Elections and Ethics Committee. Proposed legislation has included measures that could potentially increase financial barriers for grassroots efforts and delay proceedings for state questions, among other actions.
However, Dollens emphasizes that these efforts are not isolated to Oklahoma. There has been a widespread trend of Republican lawmakers across the nation introducing legislation intended to dismantle the ballot initiative process and make it more difficult for citizens to get measures on the ballot.
“The attempts to subvert the democratic process are not exclusive to Oklahoma,” Dollens stated. “We’ve seen similar movements in Missouri, Utah, Ohio, Florida, and beyond. We must ensure the voice of Oklahomans, and indeed all Americans, is not silenced.”
Through the requested interim study, Dollens hopes to raise awareness, encourage citizen engagement, and develop robust strategies to protect direct democracy in Oklahoma.
Interim studies are approved by the Oklahoma Speaker of the House.