Back in April, the passage and adoption of Senate Joint Resolution 66 set the wheels in motion for Oklahomans to answer State Question 798: Should the electorate be able to choose the positions of governor and lieutenant governor with a single vote? If approved, the election process for those offices would not change until 2026.

A poll conducted in September revealed 42 percent of those responding support SQ 798. Meanwhile, 35 percent opposed and about 23 percent remained uncertain. Currently, about half of the country uses the dual-ticket format to elect these positions.

The full language of SQ 798, which would amend Article 6 of Section 3.1 of the state constitution, can be found here and is also embedded at the end of this post.

SQ 798 proponents: Make leadership more efficient

Earlier this month, published a commentary from former HD 101 Rep. Gary Banz. In it, the Republican cites historical precedents for affirming the joint ticket before concluding that it would allow candidates to “… present their shared vision for Oklahoma …” as well as “… empower a more efficient executive approach to leadership.” Earlier in the month, the Journal Record published similar language from State Chamber President and CEO Fred Morgan.

Current gubernatorial candidates Kevin Stitt and Drew Edmondson both support SQ 798, as does the outgoing Gov. Mary Fallin and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, according to the Tulsa World.

SQ 798 opponents: Too much concentration of power

The Journal Record posted a guest column from Arnold Hamilton, editor of The Oklahoma Observer, on Oct. 18. He frames the potential change as “cosmetic at best” and warns that it may actually limit voters’ choices while giving the governor more power.

Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins expressed concern about the ability for rural citizens to seek the office in speaking with the Tulsa World in late September. Because hopefuls for statewide offices usually seek support from the large populations in OKC and Tulsa, Askins said, the nature of the race would limit the likelihood that rural contenders would make good running mates in a joint-ticket system.

Chris Powell, the Libertarian candidate for governor, supports eliminating the role of lieutenant governor altogether. (Five states do not have an official office of lieutenant governor.)

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