In May 2008, Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, authored a bill that would have required anyone who voted in Oklahoma have proper identification. Ford's bill did not even require a photo ID " a utility bill or check stub would have been sufficient for someone to vote.
The bill fell one vote short of passage and it was along party lines. All 24 Republican senators voted for the plan and 23 of the Democrats voted against it. Senate Co-President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, was AWOL and did not vote. If Morgan had voted no, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins would have been required to cast a ballot on the issue.
To justify his abstaining, Morgan said in a press release, "If you disenfranchise poor, minority and elderly voters, you can hurt Democrats."
How does requiring proper identification to cast a vote disenfranchise anyone? Why would anyone " regardless of party affiliation " be against a legitimate voter showing proper identification to vote?
Oklahoma Senate Democrats' reasoning was that Ford's bill was meant to help Republican candidates and would deter the elderly and others from voting because that demographic may not have identification readily available. To prove their point, Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, said he had data to prove that Republicans gained 3 percent in states that had voter ID laws. I searched, and no information was readily available regarding the impact of voter ID laws in U.S. elections.
Why do Democrats fight so hard against voter identification? Could it be because the current system benefits Democrat candidates? Liberal "Get out the vote" organizations such as ACORN have been in the middle of numerous investigations for voter fraud. ACORN has a record of submitting fraudulent voter registration forms, turning in duplicate registration cards, and cards for fictional characters, ones filled out by children and registration cards where the signatures had been forged. According to Stanley Kurtz of the National Review, Obama's ties to ACORN are long term and intimate. Kurtz said, "If I told you Obama had close ties with MoveOn.org or Code Pink, you'd know what I was talking about. ACORN is at least as radical as these better-known groups, arguably more so."
Opponents of voter ID say there is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud, and there is no need for voters to show identification to vote. For the most part, Oklahoma voters are honest, ethical, principled people who would never cast a ballot in someone else's name or vote twice in an election. Just because there is no evidence widespread voter fraud is occurring in Oklahoma does not mean proactive, preventive, logical steps to prevent voter fraud should not be taken.
Voter ID should not be a partisan issue. With Republicans now in control of the state Senate, it's highly likely the bill, once again up for consideration, will pass and go the governor's desk. Gov. Henry will be faced with the decision to do what is right or what is politically expedient " let's hope he does what is right and protects the integrity of the ballot box.
Fair is chairman of the Fourth District of the Oklahoma Republican Party. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.