See updates in this story added Thursday, Nov. 30, 2:30 p.m.
The group Save OKC Schools is determined to call for a vote of OKC residents for a local income tax that would support teachers in local public schools.
This comes after several twists and turns in the process throughout the week where some signatures on the group’s petition calling for a vote were declared valid after having been invalidated earlier.
Monday, Oklahoma City Clerk Frances Kersey declared that nearly 8,000 of the 16,000 signatures turned in were not “legally sufficient.”
The unusually large number of invalidated signatures would cause the petition to come up short of the needed number of 12,000.
But Save OKC Schools leaders started to have doubts about the process when 1,500 previously declared invalid signatures were found to be valid.
Save OKC Schools turned in 16,998 petition signatures Nov. 9 to call for a vote of OKC residents on a local, time-limited income tax to give teachers in local schools an additional stipend.
Only 11,991 legally sufficient signatures were needed to call for the vote.
The group’s leaders felt confident they had gathered enough extra signatures to call for a vote.
But Monday, with hours to go before her 5 p.m. deadline, Kersey turned over her preliminary report to the city attorney saying there were only 9,090 legally sufficient signatures on the petition.
Oklahoma City Ward 2 Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid talked to Free Press about the ups and downs of the process since Monday. He is one of the leaders of Save OKC Schools.
He said the group is not giving up because they have questions about the method of declaring so many signatures not “legally sufficient.”
In addition to the expected errors on any petition, this one had an unusually large percentage declared invalid.
Most significant was that around 5,500 signatures were not accepted because the three petition circulators listed their exact street address, but failed to put “OKC” or “Oklahoma City” along with their street address, Shadid said.
All three of the circulators had the forms notarized in good order.
The group made copies of the petition signing forms before turning them in.
Shadid said that when they looked at their copies, they found that at least one of the forms did have one of those three circulator’s city listed on it.
When they brought that to the attention of the city attorney, he added back around 1,500 signatures, but still falling short of the needed number.
But the group now has enough doubts about the process of validating that they plan to closely examine the detailed log of problem signatures when it comes out with Kersey’s final report Thursday, Nov. 30, in the clerk’s final report.
UPDATE – As anticipated, City of Oklahoma City Clerk Frances Kersey issued her final report Thursday that the petition does not have enough legally sufficient signatures to call a vote. Leaders of Save OKC Schools were not immediately available for comment.
Save OKC Schools now has the option of calling for a hearing before Kersey, and then if they are not satisfied, protesting the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
“We’re going to go through that report with a fine-toothed comb,” said Shadid.
He said after that process they will decide whether to protest the count to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
But if they don’t protest “there is a 100 percent chance that we will refile,” Shadid said.
To learn more about the petition effort, see our earlier reports.
- Local schools income tax petition may not have enough signatures
- Local income tax for metro schools one step closer
- Save OKC Schools launches 90-day petition drive for local income tax
- Local income taxes proposed to support OKC schools