Has the Oklahoma Secretary of State outsourced the signature verification to Western Petition Systems?
No. The Secretary of State has complete control over the signature verification process in order to make sure that the process adheres to all state laws. Western Petition Systems only supplies hardware, software and consulting services to the Secretary of State for the signature verification process in accordance with its contract.
Is Western Petition System required to supply personnel during the signature verification process?
No. All personnel used during the signature verification process are supplied by a temporary personnel service in accordance with state law and managed directly by the Secretary of State's office. The state pays for the personnel directly to the temporary personnel company(ies). According to its contract with the Secretary of State, Western Petition System is NOT required to supply any personnel during the signature verification process.
Who is in charge during the signature verification process for any particular initiative petition?
The Secretary of State's office and personnel are completely in charge of the process, including overseeing and managing the temporary personnel and the work of Western Petition Systems.
Who trains the temporary personnel for the signature verification process?
The Secretary of State leads, manages, trains, supervises and makes ALL employment decisions with regard to the temporary personnel. Western Petition Systems provides instruction to the temporary personnel on the software and hardware used during the signature verification process, but solely at the request and direction of the Secretary of State.
What experience does Western Petition Systems have in doing this type of work?
Western Petition Systems is a new company but owned by the same owner of Shapard Research, a full-service market research and data collection firm located in Oklahoma City. For more than a decade, Shapard Research has been processing optically readable forms or surveys for corporate clients and then processing or analyzing the data. For more than twenty years, Shapard Research -- through its brand SoonerPoll.com -- has been building and maintaining an internal relational database of the state's voter file. With these skill sets combined together, there is no one in the state of Oklahoma, or the nation, that has more experience in optically capturing data on paper and analyzing it against the state of Oklahoma's voter file.
Are Western Petition Systems, or its sister companies, involved in any political work that might bias its work for the Secretary of State?
For more than 20 years, neither Western Petition Systems, Shapard Research or SoonerPoll.com have worked, or are currently working for, political parties, officeholders, or candidates for public office. The owner of the business has worked on political campaigns in the past, but for both Republicans and Democrats. There are no current plans for Western Petition Systems, or its sister companies, to engage in any political or partisan work.
Is any of the hardware, software or data exposed to the internet during the signature verification process, or vulnerable to outside attack?
No. The computers used during the process are only connected to a stand-alone server with no internet access.
Can the signature forms be used for another signature verification process?
No. The signatures sheets that are produced for a particular petition are specific to that petition. Any sheets from prior petitions, successful or unsuccessful, that are turned in for a subsequent signature verification process are caught by the software and rejected.
Can the software anticipate that someone may write a nickname rather than their legal name on the petition form?
Petition signers are directed on the petition form itself to write their name as it appears on their voter registration card, however, the software can still match those voters with common nicknames such as Jeff for Jeffrey, or Rich for Richard, or Bill for William.
Can the software still match a person who writes their first and last name on the form in reverse order?
Yes. Petition signers are directed on the petition form to write their first and last name separated by one space, however some signers accidently written their names with last and then first name. The software will try and verify the signer with first and last name and then reverse the two names and try again.
Why is the year not collected when asking for the signer's birthdate or the date signing the petition?
The year is not needed to identify the year the signer signed the petition as it can easily be determined and filled in by the computer without error since the fielding period for a petition in Oklahoma is 90 days. The year is not asked of the signer for their birthdate since verifiable matches can still be made without it.
Where does the signature verification process take place?
Western Petition is contracted to provide secure office space for use by the Oklahoma Secretary of State for the purpose of processing signature verification projects. However, beginning in 2023, the Secretary of State has secured office space on-site at its office building located at 421 NW 13th Street for all future signature verification projects.