Senate holds up voter ID

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State Rep. Sue Tibbs is trying to get her voter ID bill heard in the Democrat-controlled Oklahoma Senate, where it has been allowed to languish in the General Government Committee. The bill would require voters to show a driver's license or some other state-issued photo ID. Isn't this an obvious and sensible measure? Don't we want to make sure that only people who are eligible -- those who live in the appropriate district, city, or state -- cast a vote, and that they only vote once? Why do Democrats have such a problem with this?

UPDATE: McGehee comments on a federal lawsuit targeting Georgia's voter identification law. The plaintiffs are claiming the photo ID requirement amounts to an illegal poll tax and is unfair to black, elderly, and rural voters. McGehee says the cost of a Georgia driver's license or photo ID works out to about $3 an election, not counting runoffs and special elections, and ignoring the fact that photo ID is needed for plenty of other occasions. (Via Charles G. Hill.)

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Michael Bates wants to know: State Rep. Sue Tibbs is trying to get her voter ID bill heard in the Democrat-controlled Oklahoma Senate, where it has been allowed to languish... Read More

3 Comments

They oppose it because it makes voter fraud much more difficult, and they depend on voter fraud to win most elections.

Anon said:

I was issued a "Voter Registration Identification" card when I registered to vote. While that version (issued many years ago) does not include a photo, I'm presuming the cost (to taxpayers, not voters) of taking a snapshot at the time of registration would signify no more difficulty than doing so for drivers' licenses (in fact, many DL agents now handle voter registration as well). So, we're talking about the cost of the card itself (assuming DL agents' have the equipment now).

Another option would be to have a checkbox added to the standard DL to indicate voter registration, like they do organ donors now.

Whatever the cost (which would not seem to be extrodinary by any standard) it would be well worth it to assure the proper operation of our balloting systems. If we cared as much about that only as much as we (our representatives, anyway) do about fishing/huntiing licenses, then it should be no problem at all.

In fact, we demand it.

David said:

After reading your blog yesterday about this Voter ID bill, I decided to contact my senator (Tom Adelson, midtown Tulsa) to see what he thought of it. While looking for his email address, I found out that he is on the General Government Committee. The following has been our discussion on the matter:

September 20, 2005

Dear Senator Tom Adelson:

I am writing this email to you to ask you a question regarding the Voter ID Bill. It is my understanding that it currently “lies dormant” in the General Government Committee. Being a member of this committee, I would think that you would have a good grasp on the intention of the bill as well as why it is currently being held in your committee from a vote by the full Senate.

It is also my understanding that critics of the bill say that having to present a valid ID at the polling booths would cause long lines and additional delays for the voters. I am sorry, but I don’t think that that is a valid enough reason not to assure the validity of a person’s vote.

It is my opinion that voting is a civic responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Elections are set way in advance, so people hould be able to make plans to use their time wisely.

I understand that problems may arise that changes a person’s timetable. However, there are laws in place to give people the time that they need to go vote. Under Oklahoma Statutes §26-7-01, “Every corporation, firm, association or individual hereinafter referred to as "employer" who, on election day, has a registered voter employed or in his service, shall grant the employee two (2) hours of time during the period when the election is open in which to vote…”.

While I am not a fan of allowing people off of work with pay for personal matters, the law affords people that opportunity.

Surely, this bill makes sense in a reasonable and understandable fashion. I would like to know your position on this matter and any reasons that you have for your position. Also, please see what you can do to get this to a vote of the full Senate.

Finally, I have copied Senator Earl Garrison, Chairman of the General Government Committee, and Senator Kenneth Corn, Vice Chairman of the General Government Committee, on this email, so that they too may be allowed to state their position on this matter as well.

Thank you all, and I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.

John “David” Sims
[address omitted]

P.S. Unless I hear otherwise from you, I would like to send this to the Tulsa World, Muskogee Phoenix, and Poteau Daily News so that we can inform the rest of your constituents on this matter.

Here is Senator Adelson's reply (via one of his staffers):

David -- I thinking voting integrity is of vital importance. Oklahoma is fortunate to have an accurate electronic system unlike many other states. In a closely divided race, that's a very important difference. For example, without the debacle in Florida in '00, we'd have a different President; we would have avoided the Iraq War and thousands of American casualities; we would not be in dire financial straits with record financial deficits (Remember when Republicans used to market themselves as the party of fiscal responsiblity); we would not have a President who favors amnesty, open borders, and the illegal competition from undocumented workers which lower American wages. (should I also mention fuel prices, cronyism, political corruption, graft and nepotism or is this enough)

So, I agree with you that voting matters. At this point in time, however, I don't see the need to show an I.D. Perhaps we should first investigate whether there is widespread fraud that would necessitate a slight increase in the inconvenience you mention, but I much prefer to keep voting as easy as possible.

If you feel it is important to share my response to others, please share this in its entirety.

I wasn't quite satisfied with his response, so I wrote back (replying to the staffer):

Ms. Curry:

Could you forward my thanks to Senator Adelson for taking the time to respond to my letter?

Also, could you forward my reply to his reply?

Senator Adelson:

I would prefer if we could remain on the topic of my original email. Instead of dwelling on the past, let's focus on how we can work toward the future and ensure that "debacles" (as you call them) don't happen in the future. Why not take a proactive stance on this matter and make sure that the potential for fraud is stopped before it happens?

Even if we took the time to determine whether there was fraud in the voting, other options for fraud can circumvent those determinations. Expecting someone to show their ID when voting can only help prevent the "potential" for fraud to occur.

When I voted in the 2004 general election for several positions (including your seat if I remember correctly), I waited in line and voted for all of the items at hand (almost two pages of voting) in under fifteen minutes. The funny thing was that I had my ID in hand ready to give to the person helping at the polls. I was a little shocked when I was not asked.

I really don't see what kind of delay that omeone looking at your ID can take. If someone "has to" (because it is the law) ID me because I look 25 (which has come and gone several years ago) for a beer at the convenience store, surely it would not be out of the realm of reason to expect someone to show their ID when voting. If you set the expectation that you show your ID to vote, people will understand.

In your reply, you said that you would rather keep the voting process easy. I say we take it one step further. As I have shown and explained, would it not be just as simple to keep the process easy AND valid by requiring that a voter show their ID? I think so.

You did not address my question as to whether this would be voted on in the full Senate. While both you and I are entitled to our opinion, why not allow you and your fellow senators the opportunity to make a decision that the people of Oklahoma voted for each and every senator to make for their constituents? Will there be a full vote before the full Senate?

Again, I am going to copy Senator Garrison and Senator Corn on this email and ask them for their reply in this matter.

Again, thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter with me, and I look forward to hearing from everyone and seeing a vote of the full Senate on this matter.

David Sims

Late last night I got this reply from a Yahoo Account with the screen name Tom Adelson, but a different actual address:

David -- Committee chairs hear bills at their discretion. There are over 2,000 bills filed in the Senate. Obviously, it's an important housekeeping matter to limit the number of bills heard on the Senate Floor. Senator Garrison can decide not to hear a bill for a number of reasons. I haven't visited with him about this one but will ask.

In any event, I doubt he would hear the bill without first determining the extent of alleged voter fraud. You cannot show up and vote at any precinct. You may only vote in the precinct coordinated with the address listed on your registration. So, if one wanted to "cheat," you would show up and pretend to be someone else. You'd have to know who that someone else is. You'd have to know whether that voter is a likely voter or a dormant voter. You could not show up that many times at the same precinct to vote without being caught. It would take a number of people to carry out widespread fraud.

If you want to commit fraud, there are more effective ways to do it. For example, absentee voting is an area perhaps worthy of attention. I haven't seen any evidence of problems with "voter identity theft" and so I don't see the need to require ID cards.

With regard to your own voting experience, it's unusual. 72% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats (rough estimates both) vote straight ticket.

Regards,

Tom

I wonder if I need to hold my breath for replies from Senator Garrison and Senator Corn?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 20, 2005 12:33 AM.

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