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Oklahoma Supreme Court: State Must Accept Signatures On Criminal Justice Reform Ballot Initiative

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is ordering the Secretary of State’s office to accept and count signatures demanding a felony sentencing reform question be added to the ballot this year.

The Secretary of State’s office said it wouldn’t accept more than 260,000 signatures supporting the ballot initiative because the work would put the office at risk of spreading coronavirus.

State Supreme Court justices decided the office hadn’t proven it couldn’t count the signatures safely.

The court noted that supporters of the state question offered to provide a building where signatures could be counted while workers observed social distancing.

Supporters of the “Yes on 805” campaign say they have collected more than 260,000 signatures for their ballot initiative. They were required to collect less than 178,000 to put the initiative to voters.

If passed, the initiative would change the state constitution so that courts couldn’t increase defendants’ sentences beyond the maximum range for no reason other than they’d been convicted of a nonviolent felony in the past.

It would also allow some Oklahomans to apply for sentence modifications.

Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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