Tom Adelson explains voter fraud bill delay

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Oklahoma State Sen. Tom Adelson is a freshman Democrat who represents District 33, which covers midtown and west Tulsa, and he serves on the General Government Committee. That's the committee where State Rep. Sue Tibbs' bill, requiring voters to show photo ID, is being held up.

David Sims, a BatesLine reader and a constituent of Adelson's, e-mailed the senator to encourage him to allow the full senate to vote on the bill. David posted the e-mail exchange as a comment on my entry on the bill, but to make sure no one misses it, I'm reposting it here, with a few formatting adjustments to make it easier to follow. David's introductions to each e-mail are in bold.

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?

It's strange that Adelson took the occasion of the e-mail to indulge in a little Bush-bashing, and I'm puzzled by the reference to straight-party voting, which I don't see mentioned in David's messages.

Setting that aside, the voter fraud scenario which Adelson sets out and dismisses is precisely what many political observers believe has happened. For $35 you can buy a diskette from the state election board listing every registered voter in a State Senate district. For $150 you can buy a CD-ROM with voter data for the entire state. That data includes the list of elections over the last four years in which the voter has voted, and for each election, it shows whether the vote was cast in person, by absentee ballot, in early voting at the election board, or by some other method. With that information you could easily determine who would be unlikely to appear at a given precinct. A special-interest group could take a team of 30 people and assign each one a name to vote under in each of the 30 or so precincts in a state senate district -- that's 900 fraudulent votes for the group's chosen candidate, or about 3% of the total vote, enough to make the difference in a closely-divided district. In a smaller district, in a special election, or in a primary, the numbers required to make a difference would be even smaller.

Of all the potential avenues for voter fraud, this is one that would be easy and inexpensive to block. Why not?

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» Yeah? Disenfranchise this, pal from dustbury.com

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

2 Comments

susan said:

Senator TOM ADELSON has enough democrat buddies in the State Senate to absolutely stand up and be a voice to have some type of I.D.
presented when voting. If a sign is posted at the door of wherever you are voting, people can make sure their identification is in their hand at the time you are asked to sign. Who knows? Maybe a republican beat Tom and he doesn't want anyone to go back and check voter signatures and to make sure there was no possibility of fraud when Tom ran for office.

Remember how desperate the Democratic party was when they first got Bill Clinton to try and look like an acceptable candidate from all of those problems he was having when his campaign was not going so well from the investigations of things he did when he was Governor of Arkansas? Did Bill Clinton ever fully investigate the fraud when he was president of what has now been reported of problems at the U.N.?
If Gore went out and had a few too many of this or that after he lost the election of president, would we Americans honestly want a President of the U.S. to act in such a manner when he got depressed about the pressures that all U.S. Presidents face each day? Or Hillary with her bad temper as has been reported in the press when she doesn't have her own way about something that has a marriage far from normal? What are Americans supposed to hope for from her mood swings she went through as a wife of the president when Bill was caught doing something wrong or they weren't getting along for other reasons? And the Democrats are trying to push her name as a possibility for President or V/P of the U.S. eventually?

I would like for some democrats stand up and be counted for that would vote to require some type of identification when voting.

susan said:

Registered voters usually drive their own cars in Oklahoma when it is time to vote on something. At the very least, people could show a driver's license or some other form of picture I.D. Even if you register for a university course, they require this TOM! UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES want proof you are that person taking the course! Why should voting in Oklahoma be judged differently? THE STATE SENATE NEEDS TO STAND UP TO WHAT IS RIGHT. For Tom Adelson to allow the VOTER I.D. ISSUE to remain dormant shows a flaw in his judgement.
Tom Adelson thinks the issue about illegal competition from undocumented workers which lowers American wages is something new under our current President? He thinks that did not happen when Bill Clinton was president? Get real! Tom Adelson should let republican voices be heard about the AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT LAW and work on OKLAHOMA revising the at-will employment law like several other states in the U.S. have seen the need to do. Our current at-will employment law is outrageously unfair to superior employees with proven superior work records that suddenly have new management that allows bias, ignorance, contractors that purposely lie to get the business they want, and unethical standards where H.R. Directors and new General Managers look the other way and think they can act inappropriately under the current Oklahoma at-will employment law. This has been brought up and each time, the democrats refuse to make the at-will employment law fair. The last time this went for a vote, the ads and t.v. did not show people in Oklahoma what they were voting on for all workers. Instead to be fair, they should print what the law says so voters really understand how unfair this current at-will employment law.
You can see why some employees with the current at-will employment law like being a union worker. Most employees never even knew this law existed until a few years ago because companies treated
their employees with more respect and dignity.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 21, 2005 10:39 AM.

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