OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma House passed legislation Monday that would require Oklahomans to show photo identification before they could vote in spite of objections from opponents who said the requirement creates a new obstacle to the right to vote and is unconstitutional.
The House approved the bill 55-42 along party lines following an hour-long debate in which Republicans said it would restore the public's faith in the state's voting process and Democrats said it would disenfranchise voters who commonly do not have IDs, including the elderly and minorities.
"Your fundamental right to vote has now been abridged," said Rep. Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City. "It is fundamentally unfair to a number of Oklahomans in this state."
"We are asking to put this hurdle, this obstacle, in the way of voters," said Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole. Kiesel said there is no evidence the bill will stop voter fraud but it will make it harder to vote, discouraging more Oklahomans from voting.
"Don't take away our right to vote," said Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum.
The measure's author, Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa, said the bill was designed to stop voter fraud in Oklahoma elections and was not an attempt to prevent people from voting.
Tibbs said election officials have discovered a variety of discrepancies in prior elections, including votes cast by dead people and others whose homes had been destroyed by fire.
In one recent election, precinct workers collected 2,615 provisional ballots but only 201 were actually counted because the rest were not registered and were ineligible to vote, she said.
The bill allows eight forms of photo identification including an Oklahoma driver's license, identification cards issued by the Department of Public Safety or a federally recognized Indian tribe, a U.