SQ 746: Would voter ID proposal solve a problem or create one?

Everyone would agree that the right to vote is one of the most basic and cherished freedoms in a democracy. A ballot measure facing Oklahoma’s voters in November, SQ 746, raises the question of whether protecting the right to vote against the perceived possibility of fraud is worth the risk of potentially disenfranchising eligible voters.

SQ 746 ( ballot titlefull text) would amend Oklahoma’s constitution to require every person appearing to vote to provide proof of identity by presenting either a valid government-issued picture identification or a non-picture voter registration card. Those unable or unwilling to produce proof of identity would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot by swearing an affidavit as to their identity.  Oklahoma would join 21 other states that require ID for all voters, of which three – Florida, Indiana, and Georgia – accept only photo IDs.

Proponents of SQ 746 describe it as a  “common-sense idea” that would place no more onerous a requirement on those looking to vote as on those cashing a check or boarding an airplane.  Although supporters acknowledge that they have found no evidence of  major or systematic in-person voter fraud in Oklahoma, SQ 746 is defended as “a pre-emptive step to keep voter fraud from starting.”

The downside to this pre-emptive defense against an as-yet-non-existent problem is the danger it creates of keeping at least some eligible voters from exercising their right to vote. While not expressly prohibiting eligible citizens from voting, the new requirements could lead to uncertainty, confusion, and misunderstanding that is likely to have the effect of keeping some people from casting their ballot.  Voters who do not possess a picture ID – a population estimated at 78,000 in Oklahoma, which tends to be made up disproportionately of the poor, elderly, persons with disabilities, and minorities –  as well as voters whose drivers’ license or passport has expired and voters who pull up to the polling station and discover they’ve left their ID at home, may assume that they are unable to vote.  The procedure for casting a provisional ballot may not be well understood or properly applied at all polling stations across the state, or lead to disputes that could slow down the voting process and lead some eligible voters to give up and head home. In the worst case scenario, eligible groups of voters could be targeted with intentional misinformation as a way to influence election results.

In an editorial, the Oklahoman concedes that  “voter fraud has never been much of a problem”, but endorses SQ 746, on these grounds:

But even one fraudulent ballot cast is too many. If voter ID keep someone from voting illegally, it’s worth it.

It seems that the exact opposite case could be made even more compellingly. In a democracy, the burden of proof should always be on establishing a compelling case for limiting or constraining our basic rights.  Unlike boarding an airplane or cashing a check, the right to exercise the franchise is a fundamental democratic right. From this perspective, isn’t even one disenfranchised voter too many? If voter ID creates hurdles and keeps someone from voting legally, isn’t it NOT worth it?

For information on all the measures on the ballot in November, see Ballotpedia or the Secretary of State


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

6 thoughts on “SQ 746: Would voter ID proposal solve a problem or create one?

  1. Getting an ID should not be that big a deal. How about showing you voter id card. I would rather afew lazy people not be able to vote thsn a complete block of election be forged. Just because it has not happened doesn’t mean we should’t lock the front and back doors.

  2. It’s not a bad idea. However, a better idea is to reform the funding of primary elections. Tax payers who choose to vote who are not aligned with either major party are disenfranchised during the primaries. If the Dems and Republicans want to have a ‘us-only’ vote, then they should have to pay for it, not the state and local governments. Its far past time for us to take the elections away from the parties and give control back to the people who pay for them.

  3. Sandra, what if the medicine is worse than the fake pain? The question is that are you creating hurdles for valid voters or solving a problem? We can take “lazy” another step – how about charging someone to vote then we can make sure we get rid of people who are voting just to vote. Thousands in fines and jail terms are working well – heck we can’t get most people to vote once, much less twice.

  4. In April 2008 the Supreme Court held in a 6-3 vote that Indiana’s voter identification law, which Oklahoma’s appears to mirror, was “eminently reasonable.”

    I carry my voter identification card in my wallet and present it when voting, even though it is not currently required. Anyone registered to vote will receive such a card. I fail to see the burden in requiring it be presented before voting.

    If you will please note in the article about Indiana’s law, the disenfranchisement argument falls flat.


  5. I don’t see the problem with using the voter ID card accepted ID so long as three criteria are met:

    The quality of the card be improved to keep it from being destroyed as easily – laminating should take care of that

    The card remains free and automatic for all registered voters

    The policy for obtaining a replacement card in the event of loss of theft be free, simple, easily obtained by any person searching for such information, and well understood.

    I am unable to see how this would limit anyone’s right to vote at all. I can however see how it could keep my sister from claiming to be me and voting in my name for something I hate and she loves- thereby denying my right to vote while also giving support for concepts that are abhorrent to me.

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