Governor Vetoes Voter ID Bill

Wednesday, April 8th 2009, 1:55 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Wednesday was the deadline to act, and act he did. Governor Henry put a stop to legislation that would require citizens to show identification before voting.

He says the measure would establish, "an unnecessary impediment to this most basic freedom", so he vetoed the controversial Voter ID bill.

Supporters of the bill won't be able to override this veto. The voting on this has been straight along party lines, and while the Republicans had enough votes to pass the bill, they don't have the two-thirds majority needed to override, but that doesn't mean the issue is going away.

Casting a ballot in free and fair elections is perhaps our most basic right under the Constitution and Republicans believe a fair way to maintain the integrity of that system in Oklahoma is to require registered voters to show a government-issued photo ID, or a county-issued voter ID card.

"If, worst case scenario, a voter gets to the polling place and they have absolutely no identification, that voter can still vote a provisional ballot," Bill Sponsor Sen. John Ford (R) said. "We are turning away no one."

But Governor Henry and Democrats say the system isn't broken; why tinker with this fundamental right?

In his veto message, he says "A small, but still important minority of registered voters, many of whom are senior citizens or the working poor, do not have easy access to an official form of identification, and, therefore, could be discouraged from participating in the electoral process."

"It's not that it is going to disenfranchise millions of people out there, it's just going to make it a little bit harder for some people to vote; why would we do that?" Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Charles Laster (D) said.

Supporters of voter ID tried to give the governor incentive to sign it by coupling it with a measure he was known to favor -- lengthening the state's early voting period.

"Expanding early voting makes great sense, but the voter ID Bill had too many problems, it wasn't a good idea to lump them together and there's no way the governor could have approved both of them in one package," Governor Henry's Spokesman Paul Sund said.

Instead of seeking to override Henry's veto, House members quickly passed a bill, already approved by the Senate, to send the voter identification issue to a vote of the people at the 2010 general election.