The Tulsa World penned a strong and persuasive editorial on the voter ID proposal, SB 4, that has now passed both legislative chambers and is now awaiting action by the Governor. Supporters of the legislation try to argue that requiring a picture ID to vote can’t be considered unreasonable when we already require picture picture IDs for so many other daily activities. The World responds:
Here’s what’s wrong with the analogy: Buying cigarettes, writing checks, boarding an airplane or serving on a federal jury are not fundamental rights of U.S. citizens.
That means the government can’t build unnecessary burdens into the process.
And forcing voters to show ID cards to vote is unnecessary. Advocates still have not pointed to a single case of Oklahoma voter fraud that would have been avoided by a voter ID system.
Some 80,000 Oklahomans age 18 and over are said to lack a photo ID; most of these are poor, old, or in poor health, and face real obstacles to obtaining the required identification. While the bill allows for those unable to produce the required identification card to swear an oath and cast a provisional ballot, it is far too likely that the message that “you need a picture ID to vote” will get out and keep eligible voters away from the polls.
The bottom line is: in the absence of any evidence of voter fraud in Oklahoma, any proposal that creates obstacles to the exercise of one of our most fundamental rights as Americans should be rejected.
Update: Governor Henry vetoed SB 4 on April 8th. See his veto message and the response of Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee and House Republicans . Following the Governor’s veto, the House voted final passage of SB 692, a legislative referendum bill to send a voter ID proposal to a vote of the people in 2010. The Governor’s approval is not needed on a legislative referendum.