The Norman Transcript

March 14, 2009

Voter ID bill will decrease turnout, speaker says

By M. Scott Carter

The recent wave of bills requiring photo identification before a person can vote are designed to reduce voter turnout, an Oklahoma City community organizer charged Friday.

Speaking at the Cleveland County Democratic Party's weekly Tyner Cornbread and Beans luncheon, David Glover said Oklahoma is on the verge of being the only state in the nation that "would require a voter to pay for identification to cast a ballot."

Glover said two bills -- on by state Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa and the other by state Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville -- would require voters to show some form of identification before they could vote in an Oklahoma election.

"This is nothing more than an attempt by Republicans to reduce the Democratic vote" Glover said. "That's all it is."

Glover said that about 78,000 of the state's 1.2 million voters don't have any type of identification card. "Those people are usually the poor, the elderly and the disabled," he said. "And new laws which require photo identification would prevent those residents from voting."

He said the laws would add "unreasonable" obstacles to those residents who are poor, elderly and disabled.

"Just think of the effort involved for someone who is disabled to go down to the Department of Public Safety to get a photo ID," he said. "It's not an easy thing to do."

Glover also criticized state lawmakers for offering the proposals, saying there was no evidence of voter fraud in Oklahoma.

"That is the number one myth," he said. "I spoke with the offices of all three United States attorneys in Oklahoma, with the District Attorney's Council and with the State Election Board and they all said there is no evidence of personal voter fraud in Oklahoma."

The only type of fraud a photo ID could affect, Glover said, is personal voter fraud. "And there's no evidence it is happening here."

Glover said that most voting problems are addressed at the voting both and often are caused by residents not fully understanding instructions and attempting to vote twice or by voters inadvertently signing their name on the wrong line on the voter rolls.

He said a proposal which requires photo identification also will suppress turnout and "disenfranchise voters."

"Every single university study show that voters are disenfranchised with these type of laws," he said "And the studies show these laws depress voter turnout."

He said that, "in no case" has the requirement to show photo identification increased turnout. "That's another myth, it's just not there."

Voting, Glover said, is a "right and not a privilege."

"That's why it's listed in the Oklahoma Constitution," he said. "And these ideas, while they might sound reasonable on the surface, damage our rights."

M. Scott Carter 366-3545 scarter@normantranscript.com