Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

February 10, 2014

DA: Election day liquor law is too vague to interpret

Wine event may have been issue if not rescheduled due to weather

TAHLEQUAH — Oklahoma election laws prohibiting the “taking” of liquors within a half mile of a precinct on election day appear to be too “vague” to interpret, local officials said last week.

Questions about the law surfaced when the Cherokee County Election Board sent out a reminder on various state election laws. According to Title 26 Section 7-110 of state law, “No person shall take intoxicating liquors of any kind or quality to within one-half mile of any polling place on an election day.”

Tahlequah Main Street Association was preparing to host its Wines of Winter event in downtown Tahlequah on Tuesday, Feb. 11 – the same day as the annual school election. Main Street Director Drew Haley, like many others, hadn’t heard of the statute, and said the wording seemed to raise more questions than answers.

“What does ‘taking’ mean? That’s kind of vague,” Haley said.

Wines of Winter was later rescheduled to Thursday, Feb. 13, because of anticipated weather conditions. But questions still lingered about whether the decades-old law could affect local bars, restaurants or homes – even future events – near a polling place.

“I don’t know how to interpret the law,” District 27 District Attorney Brian Kuester said Friday.

Kuester tried locating cases where the law was used in prosecution, but was unable to uncover any. Online research unveils little commentary on how others, over the years, have interpreted the law – or if they ever had to.

“I’m not aware of it ever going before a district attorney, and there are no opinions from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals,” Kuester said.

The law was placed on state books in 1975, according to Oklahoma statutes. In 1982, residents in Oklahoma County apparently made a flood of phone calls to the Oklahoma County Election Board, questioning whether polling places could be located near liquor stores.

Then-Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Donald Easter, acting as the legal adviser to the election board, claimed the presence of liquor within half a mile to a precinct would not threaten an election’s results, according to an archived story on The Oklahoman’s website.

Easter, who said violation of the law could be a misdemeanor, told The Oklahoman back in ‘82 the law was not meant to place more restraints on elections, in his opinion.

“The law is a prohibition of the general public doing something that the Legislature thinks is improper, and in my estimation, this is not the basis for an election contest,” Easter is quoted in the newspaper as saying.

At the time, Easter suggested an election board official ask for “voluntary cooperation” by businesses and distributors.

Under Oklahoma law, it is also illegal to be within 300 feet of a polling place while drunk on election day.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks