Voter ID will keep elections honest
BY SEN. GLENN COFFEE
Sunday, February 22, 2009
2/22/09 at 3:54 AM
Not so many years ago, an NBC reporter did a story on voter fraud, and chose Chicago as the setting for his report. The reporter visited many voter registration locations around the Windy City and registered to vote at each site. At his final stop a public library he registered with no identification requirement, as he had at every other location. When he finished registering, he asked to apply for a library card, to which the librarian said, "Certainly. I'll need two forms of identification, please."
More recently, an Oklahoma television reporter set out to prove how easy it would be to register multiple times, or under false names. The reporter registered, without challenge, her dogs, cats, and even a pig named Arnold Ziffel.
And during the 2008 campaign, the neighborhood organizers at ACORN the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now registered false voters around the country. The starting line-up of the Dallas Cowboys was registered in Nevada, and thousands of voter forms with identical signatures were filed in Indiana. Complaints were lodged against ACORN registration efforts in 18 states.
And there was evidence of ACORN activity in Oklahoma last election cycle, when they abandoned an office in south Oklahoma City without paying rent, leaving computers and files behind.
Does this prove voter fraud has happened in Oklahoma? No. But are we willing to wait for a tainted election in Oklahoma due to illegally registered voters? Absolutely not.
Republicans in the Senate and House are embracing a Voter ID bill which we are confident will pass both houses of the legislature and go to the governor for his signature.
Opponents of this bill claim such a requirement would disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and minorities, and that it is a Republican plot to block such voters out of the process.
This is a laughable notion. Quite the contrary, our goal is to assure that every eligible citizen's vote is cast and counted and not offset by the fraudulent schemes of those who would seek to nullify legitimate votes.
You may be surprised to know that voter identification is already the law in Oklahoma — for first-time voters in federal elections. And it's hardly onerous. And the fact is, the state election board secretary can point to no cases of reported or alleged voter disenfranchisement over the ID requirement.
Indeed, Oklahoma law allows for provisional ballots to be cast on election day, in the event there is any challenge or dispute to the validity of a voter. If a citizen tries to vote and is not on the books, or does not have proper ID, that citizen can still cast a ballot which will be counted when that person's voter registration is affirmed usually the next day. This is a proven and reliable procedure in Oklahoma elections.
Those who oppose voter ID observe that we've never had a problem in this state. They're correct, and thank goodness for that. But can you imagine the public howls of outrage the first time we have an election stolen through fraud? The public would rightly want to know where their leaders were. In this case, the Legislature is being pro-active, not reactive.
Finally, a study recently released in the Wall Street Journal proves definitively that voter ID actually increased voter turnout in the states with the most stringent voter ID requirements.
The states of Indiana and Georgia have the nation's toughest voter ID regulations, requiring government-issued photo ID cards.
In Georgia in 2008, overall voter participation was up 6.7 percent from 2004. The African-American share of the vote rose from 25 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2008. Before you conclude that was the Obama effect, note the fact that in neighboring Mississippi, which has no voter ID requirement and a minority population similar to Georgia's, turnout increased by only 2.35 percent.
Similarly, Democrat turnout in Indiana was up 8.32 percent. In nearby Illinois the home state of the new president which has no voter ID, Democrat turnout increased by only 4.4%.
Don't let the detractors fool you. A strong voter ID program in Oklahoma will ensure fair, secure and clean elections and will make every vote count.
Sen. Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, is the president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate.
MAKE IT COUNT
Sen. Glenn Coffee: Don't let the detractors fool you. A strong voter ID program in Oklahoma will ensure fair, secure and clean elections and will make every vote count.