The proposal would change the existing election process for governor and lieutenant governor from separate elections to a joint ticket, similar to that for the president and vice president of the United States. The provision would not take effect until 2026, allowing the Oklahoma Legislature time to develop the procedure for joint nomination and election. Of the 45 states that have a lieutenant governor, 25 are elected on a joint ticket. This year, South Carolina will become the 26th state to implement this approach of electing its two highest offices on one ticket.
States take different approaches to these joint elections. Currently, Oklahoma is one of 17 states that elect the governor and lieutenant governor separately. Several states allow the gubernatorial candidate to select his or her running mate. Other states use a party-nominating process. Others hold separate primaries, creating a joint ticket from the winners. At various times Oklahoma’s governor and lieutenant governor have belonged to different parties. During the first term of Democratic Gov. Brad Henry from 2003 to 2007, for example, Republican Mary Fallin served as lieutenant governor. This proposal would require the governor and lieutenant governor be from the same party.
The Oklahoma lieutenant governor’s primary responsibility is to step in as governor, should that individual die, resign or be removed from office. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Oklahoma State Senate, presides over joint legislative sessions, and casts the tie-breaking vote on bills when necessary. The lieutenant governor also presides over, appoints designees for, or serves as a member of nearly 10 state boards and commissions. The Oklahoma lieutenant governor has a unique role in state government because they are the only official to serve both the executive and legislative branches.
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PROPONENTS SAY: YES
- The lieutenant governor would be more effective because he or she would work in tandem with the governor.
- The leadership team would have a common vision when providing oversight of executive agencies.
- The measure would eliminate an adversarial relationship within the executive branch.
- Passing this measure would improve the efficiency of the executive branch, which has many elected offices.
OPPONENTS SAY: NO
- If approved, the measure would reduce the independence of the lieutenant governor in serving as the eyes and ears of the Senate.
- The current procedure of separate elections allows candidates to be chosen on their own merit.
- Separate elections help preserve the independence of the legislative and executive branches.
- This measure would remove a vote of the people.
This measure will add a provision to the Oklahoma Constitution to change the manner in which the Governor and Lieutenant Gover-nor are elected. Currently, voters cast one vote for their preferred candidate for Governor and a separate vote for their preferred candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Under this measure, if approved, candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor from the same party will run together on a single ticket and voters will cast one vote for their preferred ticket.
The measure requires the Legislature to establish procedures for the joint nomination and election of candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. If passed, this new election format will be used beginning in the 2026 general election cycle.