Oklahoma Voter Identification Measure, State Question 746 (2010)

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The Oklahoma Voter Identification Measure, or State Question 746, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred state statute. The measure was approved. Approveda The measure was sponsored by John Ford. The ballot measure proposed that voters should have to produce photo identification in order to vote. Since the measure passed, Oklahoma will join 22 other states that have this voter identification requirement.

According to the bill, "proof of identity" is a document that includes: voter’s name, a picture of the voter, and is issued by the United States, the State of Oklahoma, or a federally recognized Indian Tribe or Nation. However, should an individual not have any of the previously mentioned forms of identification, a county issued Voter ID card would be considered valid.[1][2][3][4]

Aftermath

A lawsuit was filed on November 16, 2010 in Tulsa County District Court challenging the passage of the measure, stating that statewide question interferes with the "right of suffrage by those entitled to such right." The measure was filed by James C. Thomas, who also filed a similar lawsuit challenging State Question 751 the previous week. According to Thomas, a Tulsa attorney and a University of Tulsa professor, the measure implements limits on the right to vote, and is unconstitutional. Thomas also stated that the proposal violated the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The lawsuit, according to reports, was filed on behalf of Delilah Christine Gentges, a Tulsa County resident. Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry is listed as the sole defendant.[5]

2011 lawsuit

Reports say that another lawsuit, again by James C. Thomas, is scheduled to be filed on July 1, 2011, when the law is set to be enforced. It is yet to be reported which court the lawsuit will be filed with.[6]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official results of the measure follow:

Question 746 (Voter Identification)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 746,053 74.34%
No257,52325.66%

Results via the Oklahoma Election Board. All precincts have reported their numbers.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title that Oklahoma voters saw on their ballot read:[7]

This measure amends statutes relating to voting requirements. It requires that each person appearing to vote present a document proving their identity. The document must meet the following requirements. It must have the name and photograph of the voter. It must have been issued by the federal, state or tribal government. It must have an expiration date that is after the date of the election. No expiration date would be required on certain identity cards issued to person 65 years of age or older.

In lieu of such a document, voters could present voter identification cards issued by the County Election Board.

A person who cannot or does not present the required identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot. Swearing to a false statement would be a felony.

These proof of identity requirements also apply to in-person absentee voting. If adopted by the people, the measure would become effective July 1, 2011.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal

Yes: __________

Against the proposal

No: __________

Summary

The short ballot summary of the measure read:[8]

This measure amends statutes relating to voting requirements. It requires that each person appearing to vote present a document proving their identity. The document must meet the following requirements. It must have the name and photograph of the voter. It must have been issued by the federal, state or tribal government. It must have an expiration date that is after the date of the election. No expiration date would be required on certain identity cards issued to person 65 years of age or older.
In lieu of such a document, voters could present voter identification cards issued by the County Election Board.
A person who cannot or does not present the required identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot. Swearing to a false statement would be a felony.
These proof of identity requirements also apply to in-person absentee voting. If adopted by the people, the measure would become effective July 1, 2011.

Fiscal impact

According to State Election Board Secretary Michael Clingman, implementing the proposed measure could cost approximately $90,000 per election. The cost includes officials for more than 1,000 precincts to check voter's photo IDs.[2]

Support

Supporters

  • Sen. John Ford, Rep. Dan Sullivan and others argued that the measure brought no inconvenience to voters and was in no way "too much to ask." According to Ford, "Many daily activities require valid identification, such as writing a check, boarding a plane or even getting a library card in some states. When voters get the opportunity to decide who will run our state and our nation and what laws will govern our citizens, it is prudent to verify their identification at the polls.”[1]
  • Despite an April 2009 veto by the Governor, supporters quickly passed Senate Bill 692, sending the question to the 2010 ballot. House Speaker Chris Benge emphasized that the voter identification was "critical to maintaining the integrity of our democracy."[9]
  • According to Sue Tibbs on SB 692: "We addressed several Democratic concerns by allowing the free voter ID card as an eligible form of identification, but obviously Gov. Henry is more interested in political posturing than protecting our voting process. The House and Senate have spoken, now the governor has spoken. We believe it is time to allow the people of Oklahoma to have their say."[10]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Rep. Al Lindley compared the requirement to an illegal poll tax because some of the IDs cost money to obtain, in 2008.[2]
  • Senator Mike Brown stated he opposed to the measure if a new photo ID came with a cost. According to Brown,“If you have to pay for the voter ID card, that is a poll tax, and probably would be challenged in court."[12]
  • Senator Jim Wilson was against the measure, stating, "I think we ought to kill it. What it’s going to do is stop lots of well-intentioned people from voting.”[12]
  • The Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise took stances on a number of the 11 questions on the November ballot. The group's position on State Question 746 was to vote no on the measure.[13]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Oklahoma ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Oklahoman endorsed the measure, recommending a 'yes' vote: "SQ 746 is a practical, proactive approach to preventing voter fraud on a small and large scale. If approved, every person appearing to vote will have to provide simple proof of identity"[14]
  • The Tulsa Beacon made recommendations for all the state questions on the ballot, and recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure.[15]

Opposition

  • The Enid News and Eagle recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating, "This question calls for voters to present proof of identity when voting. Although voter fraud has been an issue in other states, Oklahoma has not had a problem with it and already has an effective system of checking voter identification at the polls."[16]
  • The Tulsa World was against the measure, recommending a 'no' vote: "The proposal would do nothing to deter voter fraud. Further, there is no evidence the measure would solve any problem with Oklahoma elections. It would, however, slow the election process and discourage elderly and poor people, who often do not have driver’s licenses, from voting. The League of Women Voters strongly opposes the measure, and so do we."[17]

Impact

Immigration

The Immigration Law Reform Institute, an anti-illegal immigration organization, was in support of voter identification initiatives. After a state appeals court overturned Indiana's voter identification law, the Institute said that Indiana's law was necessary and legal in other states. The Institute based their argument on undocumented persons being prohibited to vote without a valid identification.[18].

An August 19, 2010 Rasmussen Poll reported that 82% of voters supported voter identification laws. The support for voter identification according to Rasmussen was broad-based among various demographics.[19].

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • In a poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com, 83 percent of voters polled stated that they were for the measure. The poll surveyed likely registered voters in the state, which included 385 Democrats, 340 Republicans and 31 independents. The margin of error was reported to be 3.57 percentage points and was commissioned by the Tulsa World.[20]
  • In one of the last polls taken by SoonerPoll before the general election, the results showed strong support of the measure by those surveyed. The poll included 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents.[21]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
July 16-21, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 83% 12% 5% 755
October 18-23, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 75% 17% 8% 753

Litigation

  • A hearing was scheduled for September 17, 2010 in a Tulsa County District court in order to hear arguments from opponents stating that the measure should have been taken off the ballot. The lawsuit included James C. Thomas, attorney and professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law. Thomas was representing a Tulsa resident who argued that the measure is unconstitutional. According to Thomas, "There is a specific provision in the (state) Constitution that says ‘no power, civil or military, shall interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.' And requiring voters to show an identification before is interference and to that extent it conflicts with our Constitution.” Plaintiffs in the case included Delilah Christine Gentges, state and local chapters of the League of Women Voters, and the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations.[22]
The legal challenge to the measure was delayed until after the November election. The decision was made after plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the case for now, and would refile it if voters approved the measure, which they did. The lawsuit also included a challenge to State Question 751, which would make English the official language of the state. According to reports, both sides of the case decided that it was too late to strike the measure off the ballot, with the general election right around the corner.[23]

Path to the ballot

Since the measure was a legislatively-referred state statute, its placement on a state's ballot as a ballot measure depended on whether or not the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters. In 2008 the House of Representatives passed the voter ID legislation. The bill was approved 55-42 along party lines in the House. But the bill failed to pass in the Senate.[2]

However, in March 2009 the Senate approved voter identification legislation, requiring that voter present "proof of identity" before voting.[1]

See also

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External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Oklahoma Senate,"SENATE SENDS VOTER ID TO HOUSE," March 10,2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 NewsOK,"Oklahoma House passes voter identification bill in party-line vote," March 10,2008
  3. Tulsa World,"Issues kicked over to voters," May 4,2009
  4. Oklahoma Legislature, "Senate Bill 692"
  5. The Oklahoman, "Oklahoma voter ID measure challenged," November 17, 2010
  6. The Oklahoman, "Challenges planned for Oklahoma laws set to take effect Friday," June 26, 2011
  7. Oklahoma Secretary of State, "Proposed State Questions," accessed on August 23, 2010
  8. Oklahoma Secretary of State, "Proposed State Questions"
  9. About.com:Oklahoma City,"Voter ID to be Decided by People," April 14,2009
  10. Oklahoma House of Representatives,"People to Decide Voter ID, Not Governor," April 8,2009
  11. Associated Press,"Oklahoma: Henry vetoes voter identification bill," April 9,2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 Tahlequah Daily Press, "State questions may confuse voters," August 19, 2010
  13. Tulsa Beacon, "11 state questions may pose problems," September 15, 2010
  14. The Oklahoman, "Our SQ choices," October 17, 2010
  15. Tulsa Beacon, "Tulsa Beacon voting endorsements for the Nov. 2 Election," October 28, 2010
  16. The Enid News and Eagle, "Our take on the state questions," October 18, 2010
  17. Tulsa World, "State questions," October 24, 2010
  18. Immigration Law Reform Institute, "State and Local Legislation Bulletin," September 28, 2009
  19. Rasmussen Reports, "82% Say Voters Should Be Required to Show Photo ID," August 19, 2010
  20. The Tulsa World, "Education funding measure supported, Oklahoma Poll shows," August 5, 2010
  21. Tulsa World, "SQ 744 opposition rises," October 30, 2010
  22. Enid News, "State Question 746 to bring voter ID issue to voters," September 12, 2010
  23. Leagle.com, "Lawsuit over 2 state questions is dropped," September 18, 2010