The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers must accept signatures collected by the Yes on 805 campaign to reform the state’s sentencing practices.
Chief Justice Noma Gurich wrote the order, which references Oklahoma Constitution Article 5 Sections 3 and 4: “[I]nitiative petitions ‘shall be filed with the Secretary of State’ … When initiative petitions submitting a proposed measure to the people for their ratification or rejection are offered to the Secretary of State for filing, ‘it is his duty to file same.'”
The Yes on 805 initiative was created by Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform to spread the word about State Question 805 and to “give voters the opportunity to vote YES on common-sense reforms.” According to the Yes on 805 website, “Compared to the rest of the nation, Oklahomans are incarcerated roughly [seventy] percent longer for property crimes and [seventy-nine] percent longer for drug crimes.”
The Supreme Court order noted that the Secretary of State refused to count the Yes on 805 signatures because of the difficulties surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. The court concluded by stating that it was “not convinced [the Secretary of State] would be unable to procure the tools to carry out the signature-counting process. To this end, the Court notes Proponents have offered to secure a suitable facility (where social distancing guidelines are more capable of being observed) at their own expense.”
According to Sarah Edwards, of the President of Yes on 805, the court’s decision “is a victory for the 260,000 Oklahomans who supported Yes on 805 with their signature and expect to see it on the ballot in 2020.”