A measure requiring voters to show identification before casting a ballot passed the state Legislature on Wednesday and is headed to the governor. Gov. Brad Henry had earlier said he is unhappy the bill also includes extending the state’s early voting period.
Senate Bill 4 is a preventive measure, its authors, Sen. Charles Ford and Rep. Sue Tibbs, said Wednesday before the House passed it 71-27 without debate. Tibbs, during discussion on the House floor, said she was unaware of any voting fraud in the state. Unlike a House bill by Tibbs, SB 4 would allow voters to show their free voter identification card issued by their county election board. Voters also could show a card or document that has a photograph of the voter and is issued by state, federal or tribal governments. "This bill will not prevent one Oklahoman from voting, not a single one,” said Tibbs, R-Tulsa. Eleven Democrats voted for the measure; none of the 60 Republicans present voted against it. The Republican-controlled Senate passed the measure 25-21 last month. "We believe we have integrity in our election system today; we want to pass this voter ID bill so that we maintain that integrity,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville. "This bill will in no way stifle voting, and in fact we think added confidence in the process will in fact increase voter participation and turnout.” Gov. Henry has not yet reviewed the final version of the bill and will withhold judgment, said his spokesman, Paul Sund. The Democratic governor has "serious concerns about unintended consequences” related to voter identification legislation, Sund said. "While the voter ID concept sounds good on the surface, there are valid concerns that such requirements would keep some eligible voters at home, particularly senior citizens,” Sund said. "The right to vote is one of our country’s most precious freedoms, and Governor Henry believes lawmakers must be especially careful when they attempt to tinker with this basic right.