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Tulsa World

Win some
2002-11-07

And with state questions, lose some

Despite a dizzying assortment of ballot measures, Oklahoma voters showed some real savvy in sorting through this year's batch. There were a few disappointments, but all in all, Oklahomans proved they are a reasonable, if a bit suspicious, people.

By a decisive margin of 56 to 44 percent, Oklahomans voted to ban cockfighting, proving to the rest of the world we are not backwoods barbarians. State Question 687 was by far the most controversial of the nine. The measure garnered national attention but ultimately -- thank goodness -- Oklahoma came out looking good.

The story was similar for SQ 698, an undemocratic measure that would have doubled the number of signatures needed to get certain animal issues on the ballot. This misguided measure, pushed by cockfighters and sent to voters by a weak-kneed Legislature, failed by a 54-46 percent margin.

These are not small victories. It took a yes vote to ban cockfighting but a no vote to thwart the signature double standard. Voters figured out which was which.

It was a mixed bag for the remaining measures, suggesting that confusion, suspicion or special interests prevailed. Unfortunately, SQ 701, which would have created a stable spending formula for the state's tobacco trust fund, failed 55-45 percent -- probably because voters believed the fund might be raided.

Two local economic-development initiatives and a couple of tax-exemption and abatement measures passed -- no big surprises there. But a measure providing liability protection for information-technology contractors failed, as did a measure to tap school building funds for county assessor inspections.

Sorting through state questions is a tough task for voters. The proposals are frequently complex and this year there were too many. But that's because lawmakers are too cowardly to decide controversial issues themselves. While it's unfortunate some needed measures failed, voters in general did an admirable job.