Just a day after the Oklahoma Supreme Court removed barriers to absentee voting, the Oklahoma Legislature is quietly advancing a bill to make it harder to vote by mail. The Oklahoma House will consider SB 1779 as soon as Wednesday.
SB 1779 would require voters to include a photocopy of identification, which would put Oklahoma as one of only three states with similar requirements. In 2021, it would reinstate the notarization requirement — the very one struck down by the Supreme Court on Monday.
There is little evidence that requiring photo ID is needed to prevent fraud. SB 1779’s requirements introduce an unneeded voting barrier especially for voters who could not safely access a photocopier during this pandemic. Moving forward with SB 1779 — and the return to notarization requirements in 2021 — opens up Oklahoma to additional potential lawsuits challenging the notarization requirement that was just struck down by the Supreme Court.
State officials have said that stringent measures are needed to prevent voter fraud, yet research repeatedly shows that voter fraud is “infinitesimal.” SB 1779 is a solution in search of a problem.
As the Brennan Center for Justice noted, “Most allegations of (voter) fraud turn out to be baseless.” Between 2000 and 2012, there were 491 prosecutions for voter fraud in the U.S. “during a period in which literally billions of votes were cast.”
“While certain pockets of the country have seen their share of absentee-ballot scandals, problems are extremely rare in the five states that rely primarily on vote-by-mail, including the heavily Republican state of Utah,” according to FactCheck. Even voter fraud work by the conservative Heritage Center lists only two instances of Oklahoma absentee ballot fraud in its database that stretches back almost three decades.
In our analysis, SB 1779 places unneeded barriers between Oklahomans and their right to exercise their vote safely. We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to kill this bill and concentrate only on the urgently needed actions to rebuild our economy and protect the health of Oklahomans.
Contact your legislators today and demand that they protect your right to vote safely.