Are voter ID regulations really all that onerous?

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: February 4, 2009 at 4:14 am •  Published: February 4, 2009
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THE effect of having Barack Obama’s name on the presidential election ballot in November could not have been more clear. On the first day of early voting, the line at the Oklahoma County Election Board snaked thousands of feet. It didn’t shrink much during the next two days.

Gov. Brad Henry would like to ease the burden on voters and poll workers by extending the early voting period to seven days for general elections. Henry sees it as an easy way to increase turnout, and it would probably do exactly that. People might find it easier to fit voting into their hectic schedules if they had more days to choose from.

Republican leaders have said the governor’s idea is an interesting one, but they also want voter identification to be on the table when election reform negotiations begin. And that’s where the fun begins, because the state’s two major parties are miles apart on this issue.

House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said the GOP is "going to be pushing voter ID very heavily.” On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Charlie Laster, D-Shawnee, countered thusly: "Republicans want to limit or make it more difficult for people to vote. And the Democrats want to expand it and make it easier for more people to vote.”

This isn’t a new debate. A bill that would have required voters to present a form of ID at the polls failed last session, but a number of similar proposals are in the hopper for this session. With Republicans controlling the House and Senate, it’s a good bet that some sort of voter ID proposal will wind up reaching Henry’s desk.


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