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.” Henry is troubled the bill also would extend the time for early voting, an issue he thinks should be dealt with separately, Sund said. The governor "specifically asked lawmakers not to logroll his early voting proposal into the voter I.D. bill, but those wishes were ignored,” Sund said. "The governor believes both issues should be considered separately, passing or failing on their merits.” SB 4 would extend the time voters could cast in-person absentee ballots, starting at 1 p.m. on the Wednesday before a general election. Voters now may cast in-person absentee ballots on the Friday, Saturday and Monday before an election.
What’s ahead?Ford said if Henry vetoes the measure, he would work on another bill that would bypass the governor and send the question of voter ID to a vote of the people. House Democratic leader Danny Morgan opposed SB 4, saying legislators’ time would be better spent addressing real problems, not imaginary ones. "Not even the Republican House author of the bill could offer a case of voter fraud,” said Morgan, of Prague. "It’s funny to me that we took up this unnecessary legislation on the same day as we were supposed to finalize a budget for common education.” Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to gut the bill and require that the voter identification card issued by county election officials be the only form voters would have to show in order to cast a ballot. The measure was killed in a parliamentary move. "This could have been a great, bipartisan way to address the concerns of those who are asking for voter ID legislation,” said Morrissette, who voted against SB 4. "Because it was filed by a Democrat, I think my colleagues ignored it without any consideration.”
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SENATE BILL 4Under the measure, a voter who is unable to provide any proof of identity would be allowed to sign a statement under oath swearing to his or her identity and then vote. Anyone found to have signed the oath falsely could be prosecuted.