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Tulsa World Editorials

No on SQ 698
2002-11-02

Measure is an assault on voting rights

Oklahomans will have a tough time Tuesday sorting the state questions because there are so many and confusion surrounds several of them. State Question 698 is perhaps the most problematic.

But it needn't be a difficult issue. Simply put, SQ 698 is an attack on the voting rights of Oklahomans and should be voted down.

The measure would increase the number of signatures needed on certain animal-related questions from 8 percent of the votes cast in the last general election to 15 percent. It would, in effect, create a double standard.

Supporters of the measure claim it is necessary to keep animal-rights activists from pushing ahead with restrictions on popular, long-held Oklahoma traditions such as hunting, fishing and rodeos.

This is a solution in search of a problem. Oklahomans will go along with reasonable propositions, if the case can be made for them, but they are not about to endorse measures that would unreasonably restrict such popular pastimes.

Those who favor two standards for initiative petitions have the audacity to say it's right to "stop (activists) from doing anything else" and to make it "far more difficult for these groups" to advance their causes. How unAmerican are these statements? If it's right to make it more difficult for one group of Americans to advance their causes, then wouldn't it be right to just disenfranchise them altogether? Why not go all the way and try to keep animal-welfare advocates from putting anything on the ballot under any circumstances?

In America, we allow all ideas to be heard and we allow all citizens to speak out on the causes they believe in. This allows for unpopular, even odious ideas to advance. But typically unpopular ones don't get very far for that very reason. The majority of voters are reasonable and thoughtful and won't go along with ideas that are not supportable.

We believe that is why most Oklahomans will vote no on SQ 698 on Tuesday. It is an affront to every Oklahoman who values the ability to decide issues of importance to the state.