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The Daily Oklahoman

State Question 698 Needs to be Defeated

MOST Oklahomans who intend to vote in the general election next Tuesday are aware of State Question 687, a reasonable measure that would ban cockfighting in this state. Much less known is another state question
that, had it already been state law, would have made it nearly impossible for citizens to bring the issue of cockfighting to the ballot
in the first place.

It wouldn't be a stretch to label State Question 698 as the cockfighters' revenge. Last spring the Legislature, not in one of its
finest moments, placed the measure on the Nov. 5 ballot at the behest of Sen. Frank Shurden. The Henryetta Democrat was highly critical of the anti-cockfighting petition that circulated statewide, as an effort to
outlaw cockfighting once and for all.

So, in the strange world of Oklahoma politics, we have two initiatives on an already crowded ballot related to cockfighting. But the ballot
language could be confusing, and voters who want cockfighting outlawed need to ensure that their votes on SQ 687 and 698 are done in tandem.

Our concern over 698 is simple. It would nearly double the number of voters -- from 8 percent to 15 percent -- required to sign an initiative
petition to bring an issue to the ballot. But 698 wouldn't affect all petitions, only those that involve animal- related activities.

Proponents of SQ 698 contend that it would prevent future restrictions on rodeo and even hunting in Oklahoma. We think such concerns are overstated. As importantly, 698 is a direct affront to democracy. A threshold of 8 percent of voters' signatures is a high enough bar to
bring issues to the ballot. Requiring 15 percent truly would make it impossible in nearly every instance. Besides, there shouldn't be two or
more tiers of signatures required to bring initiatives to the ballot, as 698 would do.

In the sometimes arcane way that state questions are structured, SQ 687 requires a "yes" vote to take effect. In short, a "yes" vote on SQ 687 means no to cockfighting. In contrast, SQ 698 requires a "no" vote to defeat it. Without hesitation, that's what we recommend: "yes" on State Question 687, and "no" on State Question 698.