The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit that challenges the state's voter ID law, ruling that the Tulsa County resident who filed it has legal standing to challenge the law's constitutionality.
The state's highest court handed down the ruling in a lawsuit filed by Delilah Christine Gentges, who sued the Oklahoma State Election Board after voters approved the law in a statewide election in 2010.
The Supreme Court ruled that the law requiring voters to prove their identity before voting was validly enacted. But it reversed a ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis that Gentges lacked legal standing to challenge the law's constitutionality on the ground that it violates the free exercise of provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution that guarantee the right to vote.
Gentges' attorney, retired University of Tulsa law professor James C. Thomas, said he was delighted with the high court's ruling.
“We challenged it on the ground that that was an undue burden,” Thomas said.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office, Diane Clay, said the office was pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling that the Voter ID Act was validly enacted.
The lawsuit was originally filed on Gentges' behalf by the Tulsa chapter of the League of Women Voters. It alleges the law requiring voters to present a formal identification would raise “a new barrier” for Oklahoma residents, and pose a particular hardship on the elderly, the poor and minorities.
The voter ID measure, which took effect on July 1, 2011, requires voters to present a valid photo identification card from the state, tribal or federal government, though the elderly can use photo IDs without an expiration date.