Oklahoma Presidential Primary Election
By: Constitution Staff
Oklahoma is among 14 states holding Presidential Primary Elections on March 3, 2020 in what is known as “Super Tuesday.” There will also be conventions or caucuses in other states or jurisdictions on the same day. In addition to Oklahoma, states holding an election include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.
This will be the largest number of states holding an election during the 2020 nominating process. With both California and Texas – the two most populous states in the country – holding primaries on Super Tuesday, more than one third of the U.S. population is expected to vote on that day.
Other than New Hampshire’s, Oklahoma’s primary ballot requirements are the least cumbersome. All that is required for candidates to qualify is to submit a Statement of Candidacy form along with a $5,000 (Five-Thousand Dollar) filing fee, or a petition may be submitted in lieu of the filing fee. During the December 2-4, 2019 candidate filing period, 22 candidates filed for a place on the ballot in Oklahoma.
Democrats who filed included: Tulsi Gabbard, 38; Amy Klobuchar, 59; Elizabeth Warren, 70; Bernie Sanders, 78; Kamala Harris, 55; Pete Buttigieg, 37; Andrew Yang, 44; Deval Patrick, 63; Michael R. Bloomberg, 77; Tom Steyer, 62; Joseph R. Biden, 77; Michael Bennet, 55; Marianne Williamson, 67; Julián Castro, 45; and Cory Booker, 50.
Republicans filing for the ballot were: Zoltan G. Istvan, 46; Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, 65; Matthew John Matern, 54; Bob Ely, 61; Donald J. Trump, 73; and Joe Walsh, 57.
Democrat Kamala Harris ended her campaign the same week as the Oklahoma filing and withdrew her name from the ballot. Marianne Williamson, Julián Castro, and Cory Booker later suspended their campaigns, but it was too late to withhold their names from the ballot. Therefore, Oklahoma voters will find fifteen Democrats and six Republicans on the ballot. No one filed for a Libertarian primary. The Libertarian Party will instead hold a state convention March 21-22 to select delegates to their national convention which will be held in Austin, Texas, May 21-25.
Over one-third of the delegates needed to secure the nomination for the respective political parties will be determined on Super Tuesday. In 2020, there will be 4,750 Democrat delegates: 3,979 pledged delegates and 771 automatic delegates, also known as superdelegates. On Super Tuesday, 1,345 of the delegates pledged to a candidate will be determined. Automatic delegates include members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic members of Congress, Democratic governors, or distinguished party leaders, including former presidents and vice presidents. Those delegates are free to support any presidential candidate of their choosing. Democrats in Oklahoma will select 37 of the 42 delegate positions going to the Democratic National Convention, which will be held July 13-16, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The five Superdelegates include the four Oklahoma members of the Democratic National Committee and the single Democrat in Congress, U.S. Representative Kendra Horn.
There will be 2,551 Republican delegates this year: 2,441 pledged delegates and 110 unpledged delegates. On Super Tuesday, 862 of the pledged delegates will be determined. Oklahoma Republicans will select 43 delegate positions going to the Republican National Convention, which will be held August 24-27, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. While three of the delegate positions will be held by the National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, and the State Chairman, they will be pledged delegates based upon the vote on Super Tuesday.
Oklahoma is a closed primary state, meaning only registered members of a recognized political party may vote in that party’s primary elections. However, state law gives recognized parties the option to open its primaries to registered Independents. The Oklahoma Democratic Party has opted to allow Independents to participate in their primaries in 2020.
Both major political parties follow a similar delegate selection process. Delegates are allocated proportionally based on the votes cast in the primary election. Some of the delegates are awarded based on the vote in each of the state’s five congressional districts. The remaining delegates will be allocated based on the statewide vote. A candidate is typically only eligible to receive a share of the pledged delegates if they win at least 15 percent of vote. However, just because a candidate reaches that threshold, they are not guaranteed to receive delegates. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, they may be awarded all of the delegates in a congressional district or statewide, even though other candidates received over 15 percent. And, if several candidates meet the threshold, only the top vote getters will be awarded delegates.
The actual delegates (people) who will cast the votes at the national party conventions will be selected at congressional district conventions and at the state convention. The people filling those delegate positions are typically political party volunteers or contributors who get the honor of being a delegate as a reward for their support of the party. In some circumstances, they may hold a delegate position which is pledged for a candidate that they do not personally support. However, should a presidential nominee not be selected on the first ballot at the national convention, on subsequent ballots they may be released to support the candidate of their choice.
The Presidential Primary Elections on Super Tuesday will be an important step in determining the nominees of the two major political parties.
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