Page 1

Table of Contents How are State Questions Made? 3

2016 Guide to State Questions 5

Voter Cheat Sheet 20

Felony Disenfranchisement 23

You Don’t Need a Home to Vote 26

Meet John 28

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How are state questions made?

by Anthony Helmer

Ballot measure, also known as a state question, is a broad, generic term used to describe questions or issues that appear on state-wide ballots where voters can approve or reject them. This November, Oklahoma City residents will have the opportunity to vote on seven state questions. There are two ways a state question makes it on the ballot - initiative petition from the people or a legislative referendum from the state legislature.

The language for the measure is authored by a member of the House or Senate.

Legislative Referendum ballot measures submitted by the state legislature

The measure must be voted on and approved by a majority of the members of both the House and the Senate.

After it is approved, the resolution is sent to the Secretary of State, approved by the Attorney General, then scheduled by the Governor for the next election.


Initiative Petition

Language is drafted and submitted to the Secretary of State

ballot measure submitted by the people

After approval of the ballot language by the Attorney General, the proponent has 90 days to obtain petition signatures of support.

After signatures are counted and confirmed, the Governor issues a proclamation to schedule the ballot title for the next election.

The number of signatures required for an initiative petition to result in a ballot measure is determined using the total number of votes cast in the last Gubernatorial election. 824,000 people voted in the 2014 Gubernatorial election in Oklahoma. Based on state statute for the 2016 ballot, state questions that proposed constitutional changes were required to get a minimum of 123,725 signatures of legally registered voters in the state of Oklahoma. This represents 15% of the voters from the 2014 Gubernatorial election. Initiatives to change state law were only required to get 65,987 signatures, representing 8% of voters from the 2014 Gubernatorial race.

How do state questions get their names? All proposed ballot titles must: Be 200 words or less Cannot use industry specific terms or complicated language

Be unbiased and cannot show partiality Clearly define that a “yes� vote is in favor of the measure


STATE QUESTIONS The Curbside Chronicle has edited and repurposed parts of the 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide to create the 2016 Curbside Chronicle Voter Guide. The Curbside Chronicle would like to thank the Kirkpatrick Foundation, the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Watch, The Oklahoman, KOSU, KGOU, OETA, and Tyler Media for their assistance.

On Tuesday, November 8th, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans will head to the polls to make their voices heard and vote on everything from President to local bond issues. This year, Oklahomans will also have the opportunity to vote on seven state questions. This guide is meant to help educate and prepare voters to make important decisions on Oklahoma’s state questions, which range from the dealth penalty to alcohol sales. The Curbside Chronicle does not take a position on political races or state questions. For additional resources, please go to




SQ 776 passed via Legislative Referendum Senate vote: 44 YAY 0 NAY | House vote: 80 YAY 10 NAY

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution, Section 9A of Article 2. The new Section deals with the death penalty. The Section establishes State constitutional mandates relating to the death penalty and methods of execution. Under these constitutional requirements: • The Legislature is expressly empowered to designate any method of ex-

ecution not prohibited by the United States Constitution • Death sentences shall not be reduced because a method of execution is ruled to be invalid • When an execution method is declared invalid, the death penalty imposed shall remain in force until it can be carried out using any valid execution method, and

• The imposition of a death penalty under Oklahoma law—as distinguished from a method of execution—shall not be deemed to be or constitute the infliction of cruel or unusual punishment under Oklahoma’s Constitution, nor to contravene any provision of the Oklahoma Constitution.

WHAT IT MEANS State Question 776 does two things: it addresses the method of execution for an inmate on death row, and it states that the death penalty shall not be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. If the proposal is approved, a new section would be added to the Oklahoma Constitution that allows the state to continue to impose the death penalty, even if a specific method of execution becomes unavailable. Death sentences would remain in effect until they can be carried out by any method not prohibited by the US Constitution. The Oklahoma death penalty law, enacted in 1976, has been consistently

applied by Oklahoma elected officials: the state executed 191 men and three women between 1915 and 2014 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary (eightytwo by electrocution, one by hanging, and 111 by lethal injection). Statutes specifically allow gas inhalation, electrocution, and firing squad as backups to the primary form of execution by lethal injection. In October 2015, Oklahoma suspended executions for a review of lethal injection protocols. One of the drugs most commonly used for lethal injection is sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured in the United

States. In 2011, the European Commission imposed restrictions on the export of certain drugs used for lethal injections in the United States. As a result, many states no longer have the drugs used to carry out lethal injection. Oklahoma has turned to other drugs as a substitute for sodium thiopental. However, recent instances of executions around the country in which alternative drugs were used may have produced adverse outcomes. The death penalty is legal in thirty-one states, and illegal in nineteen.



• The death penalty is legal in Oklahoma and has a history of support from officials and the general public. The state’s ability to carry it out must be protected at a higher, constitutional level. • There is a chance that certain drugs used in lethal injections, or even the use of lethal injection itself, will be ruled unconstitutional. Oklahoma needs options so that the death penalty can continue to be used. • The state of Oklahoma should have more flexibility to designate and use any available, legal method of execution. • Adoption of the measure would make it more difficult for the Attorney General or the Governor to place a moratorium on the death penalty due to reasons relating to the method of execution. • The State needs to preserve the court’s highest form of punishment for its most heinous crimes.

• This measure could make it much more difficult to rule Oklahoma’s death penalty unconstitutional and could make use of barbaric practices such as the firing squad more likely. • The amendment’s only purpose is to undermine the current moratorium resulting from the recent mistakes in the administration of the lethal drug method of execution. • Opposition to the death penalty is increasing in Oklahoma, having doubled from 12% in 2014 to 24% in 2015. • In the past few years, Oklahoma has experienced a series of issues with implementation of the death penalty including: botched executions, drug mixups, and exonerations of innocent individuals who were previously sentenced to death. • Recent polls have shown that the majority of Oklahomans prefer life without the possibility of parole as opposed to the death penalty.





SQ 777 passed via Legislative Referendum Senate vote: 39 YAY 6 NAY | House vote: 85 YAY 7 NAY

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure adds Section 38 to Article II of the Oklahoma Constitution. The new section creates state constitutional rights. It creates the following guaranteed rights to engage in farming and ranching: • The right to make use of agricultural technology, • The right to make use of livestock procedures, and • The right to make use of ranching practices.

These constitutional rights receive extra protection under this measure that not all constitutional rights receive. This extra protection is a limit on lawmakers’ ability to interfere with the exercise of these rights. Under this extra protection, no law can interfere with these rights, unless the law is justified by a compelling state interest - a clearly identified state interest of the highest order. Additionally, the law must be necessary to serve that compelling state interest.

The measure - and the protections identified above - do not apply to and do not impact state laws related to: trespass, eminent domain, easements, right of way or other property rights, or any state statutes and political subdivision ordinances enacted before December 31, 2014.

WHAT IT MEANS If the proposal is approved, the measure would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture unless there is a compelling state interest. The proposal would forbid the state of Oklahoma from regulating the use of agricultural technology, livestock procedures, and ranching practices. The standard of “compelling state interest” is a key component to the question because it sets a very high standard for a law to be judged. If passed, the proposal would apply to any democratically elected body that can trace its creation to the state legislature, including county and city governments, but not school boards.

Federal laws would not be impacted; current state laws about farming and ranching would be grandfathered in, and would not be repealed by this amendment. Grandfathered laws could be amended or repealed in the future. Similar proposals have been presented to voters in other states, first in North Dakota. A similar amendment passed in Missouri in 2014; another amendment was considered in Nebraska earlier this year but was not approved by legislators for a vote of the people. Oklahoma’s State Question 777 is inspired in part by opponents of Proposition 2 in California. Proposition 2 required certain farm animals to be able to lie down,stand up, fully extend

limbs, and turn around freely. SQ 777 is unique in that it added the “compelling state interest” clause. Oklahoma’s top agricultural products in revenue are cattle, hogs, poultry, wheat, and dairy. Agriculture is the state’s fourteenth highest economic sector, accounting for less than 2% of GDP, (higher than agriculture’s national rate.) For decades, as technology and yields have advanced, the number of agricultural jobs and farms has declined. Nine in ten Oklahoma crop and animal operations are owned by private citizens, many of whom contract with larger corporations.



• This amendment would protect Oklahoma farmers and ranchers from unnecessary government regulations. • Other states have seen out-of-state special interest groups like PETA and environmental activists pressure law makers into passing legislation that hurts farmers; this would protect them from such attacks. • Many farms have been passed down from generation to generation. Passage of SQ 777 will make it easier for familyrun farms to continue to pass down their knowledge and practices to future generations of farmers and ranchers. • SQ 777 allows farmers and ranchers to adapt to and utilize evolving technologies to improve their yield and better compete in the market without government overreach.

• Passage of SQ 777 takes away the ability of lawmakers to respond to agricultural isues without a compelling state interest, which is very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to prove. Only one state has passed a similar measure, so no case law has been established. • This amendment makes it much more difficult for state and local municipalities to protect Oklahoma’s environment and drinking water from pollution. • SQ 777 was introduced by large, out-ofstate corporations. These companies will have the power to build factory farms and use harmful methods to cut costs. This will put small, family-run farms at a significant competitive disadvantage. • Serious, unintended consequences could give puppy mills, cock fighters, and factory farm employees license to treat vulnerable creatures with cruelty.



STATE QUESTION Education Funding


SQ 779 passed via Initiative Petition 123,725 signatures required | 301,518 signatures received

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure adds a new Article to the Oklahoma Constitution. The article creates a limited purpose fund to increase funding for public education. It increases State sales and use taxes by one cent per dollar to provide revenue for the fund. The revenue to be used for public education shall be allocated: • 69.50% for common school districts, • 19.25% for the institutions under the authority of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education,

• 3.25% for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, and • 8% for the State Department of Education. It requires teacher salary increases funded by this measure raise teacher salaries by at least $5,000 over the salaries paid in the year prior to adoption of this measure. It requires an annual audit of school districts’ use of monies. It prohibits school districts’

use of these funds for increasing superintendents’ salaries or adding superintendent positions. It requires that monies from the fund not supplant or replace other educational funding. If the Oklahoma Board of Equalization determines funding has been replaced, the Legislature may not make any appropriations until the amount of replaced funding is returned to the fund. The article takes effect on July 1 after its passage.

WHAT IT MEANS If this proposal is approved, Article 8-C would be added to the Oklahoma Constitution creating a limited purpose fund—the Education Improvement Fund. An increase of the sales and use tax by one cent on the dollar would provide revenue for the fund. School districts that benefit from the fund would be subject to an annual audit. Funds generated by the tax cannot be used to replace other state funding of common, higher, career and technology, and early childhood education. The provisions of the new article require a minimum $5,000 salary increase for teachers over the salaries paid in the year prior to adoption. The

funds generated would not be used to increase the salaries of school superintendents or to add superintendent positions. Oklahoma’s average compensation for teachers, including salary and benefits, is $44,921. According to the National Education Association, Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in teacher pay. A section within the new article to the state constitution establishes that monies collected would be distributed as follows: • 69.5% to common education (86.33% of common education funding would

be used to provide teachers with a minimum $5,000 raise and otherwise address or prevent teacher and certified instruction staff shortages. 13.67% of common education funding would be used to adopt or expand, but not maintain, programs, opportunities or reforms for improving reading in early grades, improving high school graduation rates, and increasing college and career readiness.) • 19.25% to higher education • 3.25% to career and technology education • 8% to early childhood education



• Teachers haven’t received a raise in over eight years. Oklahoma teacher pay is amongst the lowest in the country, and we are seeing many talented teachers move to bordering states with higher salaries.

• The sales tax is considered a regressive tax, disproportionately affecting lowincome individuals.

• Passage of SQ 779 would provide a guaranteed funding mechanism for additional education funding. The funding would be safe and could not be used by the legislature for any other purpose than that clearly explained in the ballot language. • The funding would provide a permanent salary increase for teachers. The increased salaries would allow Oklahoma to retain teachers and be more competitive in the teacher recruitment process. • A percentage of the money also goes towards higher education and career tech, both of which have been hit hard by recent budget cuts. • Passage of SQ 779 would show the legislature the importance of funding core services and that citizens are willing to pay slightly higher taxes in order to ensure proper funding for core programs.

• Passing SQ 779 would alleviate pressure on the legislature to properly fund education by putting the burden of fixing the problem on citizens. • There are many other ways to fund salary increases for teachers and increased funding for education. The legislature could repeal the recent income tax cuts, cut ineffective corporate incentives, or pursue other revenue raising measures that are less regressive. • Increasing the state sales tax would make it much harder for local municipalities to raise their local sales tax. City governments rely on sales taxes to pay for emergency services, sanitation, school bonds, and other vital services and capital improvements. • Unlike most other sales tax increases, which are used to pay for a particular project and end once the project is completed, this tax increase is permanent.



STATE QUESTION Criminal Justice Reform


SQ 780 passed via Initiative Petition 65,987 signatures required | 111,159 signatures received

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure amends existing Oklahoma laws and would change the classification of certain drug possession and property crimes from felony to misdemeanor. It would make possession of a limited quantity of drugs a misdemeanor. The amendment also changes the classification of certain drug possession crimes which are currently considered felonies and

cases where the defendant has a prior drug possession conviction. The proposed amendment would reclassify these drug possession cases as misdemeanors. The amendment would increase the threshold dollar amount used for determining whether certain property crimes are considered a felony or misdemeanor. Currently, the threshold is $500. The amendment would

increase the amount to $1000. Property crimes covered by this change include; false declaration of a pawn ticket, embezzlement, larceny, grand larceny, theft, receiving or concealing stolen property, taking domesticated fish or game, fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, or issuing bogus checks. This measure would become effective July 1, 2017.

WHAT IT MEANS If the measure is approved, State Question 780 would reclassify certain offenses, such as simple drug possession and property crimes, as misdemeanors rather than felonies. The reclassification of the drug possession offense is intended to be applied to persons who use the drugs, not to those who are selling or manufacturing the drugs. The measure also would change the dollar amount threshold for property crimes charged as felonies from $500 to $1,000. The goal of this measure is to reduce the size of the state’s prison population and to reduce the amount of state

funds being spent on prisons. SQ 780 proposes to change Oklahoma statutes, not the constitution. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice in 2014, Oklahoma had the second highest incarceration rate in the nation at 700 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents. Oklahoma also had the highest incarceration rate for women that year. The total correctional population of a state includes people incarcerated and on probation or parole. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections indicated in August 2016 that the prison system was at 104% of its capacity with 27,097 inmates being

held. Drug offenders comprise 26.3 percent of inmates. Another 23.3% of inmates are imprisoned for other nonviolent crimes. According to the Oklahoma DOC 2015 annual report, the Oklahoma prison population has increased by 22.6% since 2006. In fiscal year 2016, the Oklahoma legislature appropriated $485 million to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. If the measure is approved, the changes proposed would not be retroactive. Sentences for current inmates would not change.



• Passing SQ 780 will begin to alleviate the strain and expense of our already overcrowded prison system by decreasing the flow of individuals into prison. • There are more effective and cost efficient ways of rehabilitating drug offenders than jail and prison. The prison system does little to equip drug offenders to successfully re-enter society, which increases their chances of recidivism. • Passage of this measure will save the State money in a number of ways, including decreased court costs, decreased jail and prison time, and decreased recidivism rates. This money could be used for more effective rehabilitation and mental health programs.

• Only possession of certain types of drugs should be reclassified. This measure treats possession of marijuana, which is now legal in certain states, the same as a drug like heroine. Drugs have different effects on your mind and body, so more dangerous drugs should carry harsher punishments. • Misdemeanor offenders usually serve up to one year in county jail. The measure just redirects offenders from state prisons to county jails that are struggling to fund adequate jail spaces already. • Reducing these charges from felony to misdemeanor decreases: prosecutors’ leverage, the judge’s sentencing discretion, and incentives for offenders to complete treatment programs or participate in drug or mental health court.



STATE QUESTION Rehabilitation Programs


SQ 781 passed via Initiative Petition 65,987 signatures required | 110,135 signatures received

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure creates the County Community Safety Investment Fund, only if voters approve State Question 780, the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act. This measure would create a fund, consisting of any calculated savings or averted costs that accrued to the State from the implementation of the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act in reclassifying certain property

crimes and drug possession as misdemeanors. The measure requires the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to use either actual data or its best estimate to determine how much money was saved on a yearly basis. The amount determined to be saved must be deposited into the Fund and distributed to counties in proportion to their population

to provide community rehabilitative programs, such as mental health and substance abuse services. This measure will not become effective if State Question 780, the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act, is not approved by the people. The measure will become effective on July 1 immediately following its passage.

WHAT IT MEANS The implementation of State Question 781 is contingent on the passage of State Question 780. If SQ 781 is approved by voters, but SQ 780 is not, none of the changes described in SQ 781 will be enacted. If both measures are approved, SQ 781 would create the County Community Safety Investment Fund. That fund would hold any cost savings achieved by reducing numbers of people incarcerated - a decrease resulting from reclassifying certain property crimes and drug possession as misdemeanors. The new Investment Fund would

be a revolving fund not subject to fiscal year limitations. Any savings or averted costs would be calculated by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. If savings are determined, the legislature would be required to appropriate that amount from the general fund to the County Community Safety Investment Fund. The money must be used for county rehabilitative programs, including those that address mental health and substance abuse, or provide job training or education. The money would be distributed to Oklahoma

counties in proportion to their population. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services will use actual data or make its best estimate when calculating cost savings per year. Its calculation would be final and would not be adjusted because of subsequent changes in underlying data. The intent of SQ 781 is to focus on root causes of criminal behavior such as addiction and mental health problems, as opposed to placing more people charged with lower-level offenses behind bars.



• Passage of SQ 781 would create a funding mechanism for much needed drug and mental health rehabilitation services at the county level. • Drug and mental health treatment programs have been proven to be more effective in rehabilitating drug offenders and reducing recidivism rates than jail and prison. • Using the savings from decreased penalties for drug and mental health treatment will reduce recidivism rates, which will result in even greater longterm savings for the State.

• The money the State saves from the reduced sentences is not guaranteed to go into the County Community Safety Investment Fund. The money is subject to appropriation by the legislature like other state funds. • The measure is not very clear on how to determine cost-savings on a countyby-county basis. This will make it difficult for the State to properly appropriate money into the newly created fund. • Lowering possession to misdemeanors will remove offenders’ fear of going to prison—a fear that is an incentive for them to participate in drug court.



STATE QUESTION Separation of Church and State


SQ 790 passed via Legislative Referendum Senate vote: 39 YAY 5 NAY | House vote: 65 YAY | 7 NAY

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure would remove Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits the government from using public money or property for the direct or indirect benefit of any religion or religious institution. Article 2, Section 5 has been interpreted by the

Oklahoma court as requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the State Capitol. If this measure repealing Article 2, Section 5 is passed, the government would still be required to comply with the Establishment Clause

of the United States Constitution, which is a similar constitutional provision that prevents the government from endorsing a religion or becoming overly involved with religion.

WHAT IT MEANS State Question 790 addresses public funding and property use regarding the separation of church and state. It is a proposal to repeal a section of the state’s constitution. If the measure is approved, Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution would be repealed. By removing this section, public expenditure or property use for religious purposes would not be explicitly prohibited. Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Under the Oklahoma Constitution’s Article 2, Section 5, state money or property cannot be used directly or indirectly to support a church, sect, denomination, or system of religion. This state question is a response to recent controversy over display of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. In 2009, the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act was passed by the state legislature and, three years later, a privately donated Ten Commandments monument was erected on the grounds of the State Capitol. Lawsuits followed, and by June 2015,

the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the monument’s placement on state property was unconstitutional, ordering that it be removed. The basis for the court’s decision was Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma State Constitution. In October 2015, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called on the legislature to repeal that section of the state constitution in order to allow the monument at the State Capitol.



• In the Ten Commandments court case, The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling and interpretation of Article 2, Section 5 of Oklahoma’s Constitution could make the state hostile towards religious practices and traditions in counties, cities, and school districts. • Religious liberty should allow the placement of religious monuments on State property, including the Ten Commandments monument previously located at the State Capitol. • Religious institutions should be allowed to participate in publicly funded programs. Removing Article 2, Section 5 of the State Contitution removes a barrier that has historically prevented this from happening. • Passage of this state question could clear the way for the state to create a school voucher system, increasing school choice. • Passage of SQ 790 will add additional protections for religious activities in public schools and government bodies, including prayer in schools and before city council meetings.

• If SQ 790 passes, there will be expensive federal lawsuits against the State, which will be paid for by Oklahoma taxpayers. • Removal of Article 2, Section 5 from the State constitution would allow the State to appropriate money, land, and other public assets to specific religious purposes, including religious schools and activities which are not open to everyone. • If approved, SQ 790 would make it very difficult for the State to refuse to grant public land at the State Capitol to other religious institutions who request it. This includes the Baphomet statue which the Satanic Temple has already created. • If passed, religious organizations that accept state funds would be exposed to the same level of scrutiny and the same standards currently imposed on publicly funded organizations, including auditing requirements. • Passing SQ 790 would pave the way for a school voucher system in the state, allowing state funding to go to private, religious schools. This would pull more money out of an already strapped public education system.





SQ 790 passed via Legislative Referendum Senate vote: 30 YAY 14 NAY | House vote: 64 YAY 30 NAY

WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON THE BALLOT This measure repeals Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution and restructures the laws governing alcoholic beverages through a new Article 28A and other laws the Legislature will create if the measure passes. The new Article 28A provides that with exceptions, a person or company can have an ownership interest in only one area of the alcoholic beverage business—manufacturing, wholesaling, or retailing. Some restrictions apply to the sales of manufacturers, brewers, winemakers,

and wholesalers. Subject to limitations, the Legislature may authorize direct shipments to consumers of wine. Retail locations like grocery stores may sell wine and beer. Liquor stores my sell products other than alcoholic beverages in limited amounts. The Legislature must create licenses for retail locations, liquor stores, and places serving alcoholic beverages and may create other licenses. Certain licenses must meet residency requirements. Felons cannot be licensees. The Legislature

must designate days and hours when alcoholic beverages may be sold and may impose taxes on sales. Municipalities may levy an occupation tax. If authorized, a state lodge may sell individual alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption but no other state involvement in the alcoholic beverage business is allowed. With one exception, the measure will take effect October 1, 2018.

WHAT IT MEANS If the proposal is approved, it would repeal Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution and replace it with Article 28A, which restructures the laws governing alcohol. If approved, the measure will go into effect on October 1, 2018. Currently, under Oklahoma law, liquor stores can sell full-strength, unrefrigerated beer but cannot sell

cold beer or chilled wine. Liquor stores can sell wine and spirits but no other items. Grocery and convenience stores can sell cold low-point beer (3.2% alcohol by weight) but not spirits, wine, or high-point beer. State Question 792 would change the current alcohol laws to allow grocery, convenience, and drug stores to sell cold, high-point beer (up to

8.99% alcohol by volume) and wine (up to 15% alcohol by volume). Liquor stores would be allowed to sell cold beer and any item that also may be purchased in a grocery store or convenience store - except motor fuel - in limited amounts. Liquor or spirits will still only be available for purchase from licensed retail liquor stores.



• Our current alcohol laws are outdated and need to be modernized. Oklahoma currently has some of the most restrictive alcohol laws in the country, and passage of SQ 792 will put Oklahoma’s alcohol laws in line with 45 other states. • SQ 792 law will make purchasing wine and beer more convenient for Oklahoma consumers by increasing the number of distributors. This will also increase competition, resulting in greater variety and lower prices for consumers. • Passing SQ 792 will allow Oklahoma to attract large, national grocery stores which have been hesitant to move into the Oklahoma market due to the laws restricting the sale of wine and highpoint beer. • The state is losing tax dollars to border states which allow grocery stores to sell wine and high-point beer. Some Oklahomans living near the border choose to purchase alcohol from nearby states due to lower prices and greater selection.

• Allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and high-point beer will decrease sales at independent liquor stores throughout the state. This would lead to local stores going out of business and their employees losing their jobs. • Allowing wine and high-point beer in grocery stores will increase access to underaged individuals, something Oklahoma already struggles with. • Grocery stores would be given an unfair advantage over local liquor stores due to their buying power and ability to buy in bulk across their numerous stores. • SQ 792 contains language that would allow out-of-state distributors to buy controlling interests in wholesalers and then designate themselves as the sole wholesale distributor of any product they represent. Retailers would not be able to choose between competing wholesalers but would have to buy each product from only one particular wholesaler, driving up the price.




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STATE QUESTIONS SQ 776 | Death Penalty SQ 777 | Agriculture SQ 779 | Education Funding SQ 780 | Criminal Justice Reform SQ 781 | Rehabilitation Programs SQ 790 | Separation of Church and State SQ 792 | Alcohol Sales 21


FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT data provided by The Sentencing Project

Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes: felonies. Most U.S. states have created laws disenfranchising people currently or previously having been convicted of a felony. Over the past 40 years the prison population has exploded, significantly impacting voter participation in many American communities and silencing the voices of an estimated 5.8million potential voters. In Oklahoma, the voting rights of someone convicted of a felony are restored upon completion of their full sentence, including prison time, parole, and probation. Oklahoms with felony convictions are disenfranchised for the time period set out in their original sentence. This means, for example, that a felon who is sentenced to ten years in prison but receives parole after six is unable to regain their voting rights for an additional four years after their release. Advocates of criminal justice reform oppose disenfranchisement laws, calling into question their impact on democratic participation, disproportiate effects on low income and minority communities, and adverse consequences on rehabilitation of offenders and the recidivism rate.




Felons permanently can’t vote. Felons can’t vote for a period after completing their sentence, depending on their charges. Felons can’t vote while in prison, on probation, or on parole. Felons can’t vote while in prison or on parole. Felons can’t vote while in prison. Felons can vote while in prison.

• 48 states prohibit voting while incarcerated. • 35 states prohibit voting while on parole. • 31 states prohibit voting during parole and probation. • 8 states prohibit voting until after the full sentence has ended and additional requirements have been met. • 4 states permanently prohibit voting. • 2 states allow voting while in prison. 23





28,871 IN 2015, THERE WERE



1 IN 40

1 IN 12








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information provided by National Coalition for the Homeless

The cornerstone of our democracy in the United States is the right of citizens to make their voices heard through a free and fair election. Unfortunately, low-income voters, and particularly persons experiencing homelessness, are consistently one of the most poorly represented groups when it comes to voter turnout. Historically, these groups have faced numerous barriers which have limited their participation in the election process.

Many potential homeless and low-income voters may not have the appropriate identification documents required by some states to register or to vote. Furthermore, individuals who are experiencing homelessness may lack the resources to educate themselves about candidates and ballot measures or may lack transportation to the polls on Election Day. Many individuals, homeless or otherwise, aren’t even aware that no state requires res-

idents to have a traditional, long-term residence in order to vote in elections. “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” is a national campaign that seeks to promote voting access for low- income and homeless persons to ensure that people who are economically disadvantaged maintain a voice in shaping their future and their communities. The following information attempts to explain how a person experiencing homelessness can cast a ballot in the 2016 election.

I’m Homeless. Am I eligible to register and to vote?

describe where he or she usually sleeps. This location may be the address of a shelter or the description of a street corner, and the Oklahoma State Election Board will determine the precinct based off this address.

homa allows those who lack proof of identification to vote by provisional ballot, attesting that they are a registered voter by signing a sworn affidavit. Voters who cast provisional ballots are required to fill out and sign an affidavit that explains why their provisional ballot should be counted. Provisional ballots are sealed inside special envelopes and are not put through the voting device. After Election Day, County Election Board officials investigate the information provided by the voter on the affidavit and either approve the provisional ballot for counting or reject it based on the outcome of that investigation. In order for a provisional ballot to be approved for counting, the information on the affidavit must match the information in the voter’s registration record.

Yes, in Oklahoma you are legally eligible to vote if you are: ● a citizen of the United States, ● a legal resident of your state, ● at least 18 years old by election day, ● not in prison, on probation or parole for a felony conviction, and ● not declared mentally incompetent by a court. How can I vote if I don’t have a fixed address? Oklahoma’s residency requirements for voter registration do not require the applicant to reside in a building; rather, state code enables the applicant to 26

How can I vote if I don’t have proof of Identification? Oklahoma state law requires all registered voters to prove their identity before voting by showing a valid from of identification. Acceptable forms of identification include: driver’s license, State ID, tribal or military ID, passport, or your voter registration card. Homeless individuals may not have a state-issued ID or may be unable to provide the necessary documents (and possible funds) to receive one. Okla-

What if I have trouble reading and writing? You may register and vote even if you cannot read or write. You may take to the voting booth a literate and registered individual who can assist you in the voting process, but not actually vote for you. Some individuals experiencing homelessness have educational and developmental barriers like being illiterate. Nationally, legislative efforts to help homeless Americans secure voting rights were not presented until the 1980s: • In 1984 Pitts v. Black challenged a New York State Election Law provi-

sion that banned people experiencing homelessness from voting. The District Court found that this ban “disenfranchised an entire group of people, which is forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause.” It was determined that someone’s place of residence is the place “at the center of the individual’s life,” or where they intended to stay, and where they can be contacted. • In 1984 in the administrative hearing of In re-Application for Voter Registration of Willie R. Jenkins, the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections ruled that a person’s intent to reside in a place means that location counts as a place of residence for voting purposes. • A California court ruled in Collier v. Menzel in 1985 that denying people their right to vote because they listed

the park as their place of residence violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court determined that the park’s location would determine the voting district. • A 1987 decision in Fischer v. Stout said that homeless shelters or park benches are sufficient places of residence to register to vote in Alaska. Studies show that 70% of those registered to vote by volunteer efforts in welfare and food stamp offices actually go to the polls and vote in presidential elections. Low income people are no more or less interested in politics than anyone else.

Meet John compiled by Ranya O’Connor | photos by Sarah Powers

John is a vendor for The Curbside Chronicle. You can find John selling in Downtown Oklahoma City on the corner of Robinson and Dean McGee Ave. John shares his experiences on the following pages growing up in foster care, traveling with carnivals, and why he’s proud to sell The Curbside Chronicle.



Where are you from? I was born in San Bernardino, California. I was put into foster care when I was eight and my little brother Brad was six. My big brothers had already been taken away by the time I was born, so I never got to meet the three of them. We were taken on the grounds of abuse, neglect, and malnourishment.


What was your childhood like? You know, it wasn’t good. The first sexual abuse was when I was three from my stepdad’s oldest daughter. She was 21 at the time. When I told my parents about it, she lied and said it didn’t happen. So according to them, it didn’t happen. That made me not trust adults. And then I was sexually abused again a couple years later.


I think it made it hard on some of my relationships growing up. I think some of them could have lasted longer had I known how to deal with that.

How did you end up in foster care? We lived in a house for a little bit. But when they couldn’t afford the house anymore, they went to slinging dope and we moved into a motel. We lived in the motel about two years. That’s where the cops came and got us.


Me and my little brother were both handcuffed that night. That was their way of being able to “control” us. There was a man walking down the corridor and he saw us handcuffed to the table through the motel room window. He called the police and we got taken away that night.

What was foster care like? Brad and I were placed in long-term foster care with a family. When we first got there, it was just me and my brother. About three months into it, another family of siblings came in. Then there was five of us. Brad used to like to play with the other children. I wanted to beat them up. I wanted to do nothing but fight them. I think that was the first time we realized something was wrong with me. I had an anger problem. I got removed from the home. For the next three years, I would get bounced from home to home to home. I was in six or seven foster homes. Then Brad moved from California to Maryland with his foster family. I got to rejoin him at the age of 13 in Maryland. This family refused to give up on me. Regardless of what I did, they kept me around.

I was always pushing people away. I put my foster parents through so much hell.

At 26 years old I became a widow. After that, I got drunk, and for the next three years, I stayed drunk.


What did you do? I was always pushing people away. I put my foster parents through so much hell. I drove one of their cars through the garage door. I physically tried to fight them. If I didn’t like you, I was gonna make it to where you didn’t want me around.


Why did you push people away? I think it’s because I got to see a lot of the kids around me go home on the weekends. Get to try for reunification. At first, I got to see my mom and then not at all. I was mad at her for the abuse. But I still wanted to see if we could reconnect. I was reaching adolescence and my teenage years. Other people were helping me with things that my mom or my dad should be helping me with.

John and his dog, Baby Boy, in Downtown OKC.



You said you had an anger problem as a kid? I was diagnosed with ADD and anger problems. They didn’t know I was bipolar at the time. I didn’t find that out until recently. At 19, I tried to commit suicide. I tried to cut my wrists. I got sent to a psychiatric hospital. I’ve had some issues. But I wasn’t willing to get help at the time. About 7 years later, I tried again when my wife died.

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I’m going to HOPE Community Services to get mental health help now. I’m taking medicine now. It makes me tired, but I feel better. My anger is under control now. I’m still trying to get my anxiety under control.

What did you do when you became an adult and aged out of foster care? When I turned 18, I just went rolling. I hitchhiked around. At 19, I became a carny. The Maryland State Fair happened to be in town. I was already hitchhiking around, so I thought I’d get a job traveling. Sure enough, I started working with carnivals. I started out in rides and then went onto games. I did it close to 20 years. I’ve been to all but two states Alaska and Hawaii. Florida is my favorite. I set up the rides and operated them. I did everything from kiddy land to the majors. I’ve had some accidents too. I once fell 25ft. from the top of a Haunted House ride while tearing it down.


What was it like being a carny? It’s really long hours. You gotta be ready to work all day, especially during state fair time. They’re opening the gates at 10AM and not closing until midnight. We would travel from city to city with our setup. I would usually ride with the bunkhouse, which is our travel trailer sectioned off into rooms. For the most part, that was the life I was wanting at the time. I already had a bit of a drinking problem, so I fit into the culture. There’s lots of drugs and drinking that goes on in the carnival world. At 26 years old I became a widow. After that, I got drunk, and for the next three years, I stayed drunk.


How did you meet your wife? I actually met her through her sister. I had met her sister at a bar and we started talking. I was still on the road working carnival gigs, but during winter break, I went to see her in Texas. When I went to go see her in Texas, she told me that she thought I’d be a better match for her sister than her. So I got to meet her sister, and we hit it off big time. two weeks later we were married. We were married for four years until she died. Pneumonia got her. She went out on the road with me that year touring with the carnival. We got up into Colorado and Wyoming where it gets hot during the day and cold at night. She got pneumonia but refused to go to the hospital. It was about a month later that we finally got her to see a doctor, but it was too late.


When did you stop being a carny? I stayed on with carnivals until three years ago. In 2013, I said no more carnivals. It got to be too corporate for me. It wasn’t like the old days. And because of my habits and history, I stay away from the fair now. I decided to sober up and not go back to the fair.


Any tips on how we can win games at the fair? I know how all the games are set up and how they’re won. If you want to guarantee yourself a win, play the balloon dart game. I ran that one for years and you’ll always win a prize.


When did you first experience homelessness? I’ve always lived my life a little bit like a nomad working for carnivals. Me and my wife had a steady rental history. It was after the wife died that my rental history quit. When you’ve only rented rooms or motels for years, they don’t count that as a rental history. That makes it hard to get a landlord to rent to you. I mainly camp outside at night now. I move every couple months. I used to sleep downtown, but we were told that we had to move around. I feel as if the homeless are being pushed out of downtown. Like they don’t want people to see us.

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What do you wish people knew about homelessness? Homelessness doesn’t have a look to it. I’ve been told I look too “clean” to be homeless just because I take care of myself. I shower at the day shelter before work. What is it like working for Curbside? I like the fact that I don’t have to get out there and spange (ask for change) every day. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Even on my worst day, I feel good at the end of the day because I got out there and worked for it.

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When I was panhandling, I wouldn’t get half as many people to even look at me. Working for curbside, I’m more respected now. People that wouldn’t even say hello to me when I was panhandling come up to me now.

Before you knew about Curbside, what was panhandling like for you? It wasn’t easy. I felt like shit. I ain’t gonna lie. I felt like shit when I was out there. Then I was told by a policeman about Curbside. Now, I sell the magazine to support myself instead of panhandling.


What do you wish people knew about Curbside? It is an actual job. We’re out there working. We’re not out there for you to feel sorry for us. You’ve got guys like me out there trying to bounce back. But it’s hard for us to get a shot. Curbside gives us a chance.


What are your hobbies? I love music. I’m a big Five Fingered Death Punch fan. I also like to dance. I usually dance while I’m working. It makes the time go by faster out there. I listen to a little bit of everything. Just whatever I feel like dancing to that day.


And I love football. Alabama when it comes to college. Pittsburgh and Louisiana when it comes to pro. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. I’m a big NASCAR guy.

What are your goals for the future? Get a place. Get another job. I would like to get my GED within the next year. I dropped out of school in 11th grade. I walk around with my head held higher now. I know I’m doing the right thing going to HOPE for my mental health. I’m doing the right thing working for a living. I’m not focused on the negative crap that I used to be focused on. And I try not to give myself that kind of time anymore.

You’ve got guys like me out there trying to bounce back. But it’s hard for us to get a shot. Curbside gives us a chance.

Help us employ the homeless! The Curbside Chronicle needs your help! Cut along the black lines and keep these cards in your car to hand out to individuals who could use a hand. Together we can employ and empower OKC’s homeless!

The Curbside Chronicle - Issue 21  
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