By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill that would require Oklahomans show a photo ID in order to vote has cleared committee, and will soon go to the House for consideration.
The sponsor of the voter ID bill said this would give voters renewed faith in the voting process, and would not exclude anyone, even those who don't have an ID.
This issue has stirred across the country, and it's even gone to the Supreme Court.
Critics of voter ID laws say they are unfair to segments of the population that don't have, and don't have easy access to, photo IDs, like the elderly and the poor, and they would be discouraged from going to the polls.
"I honestly believe that it will encourage people to go to the polls because they will think that their vote absolutely does count," Rep. Sue Tibbs said.
Republican Representative Tibbs believes voter fraud is a bigger problem in Oklahoma, and this bill would fix it.
"Can you cite any court cases? No, I can't, but I can cite to you that more than one time there have been votes thrown out because they have voted in the wrong county or maybe in the wrong precinct," Rep Tibbs said.
Democratic Representative Richard Morrissette said what's fraudulent is the claim that voter fraud is a problem in Oklahoma.
"Last year, in the 2008 election, when we had the highest voter turnout in many years, there were only--and this is the words of the secretary of the election board, the new one, that only six cases of possible voter impropriety occurred, because there were six people that went to the wrong precinct," Rep. Morrissette said. Currently 25 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring voters show some ID at the polling place, seven of those states require that it be a photo ID. A lawsuit challenging Indiana's law went to the Supreme Court last year.
"I believe the Supreme Court, in their ruling for Indiana, said that it would affect so few people that they would uphold Indiana's law," Rep. Tibbs said.
Morrissette said the ruling didn't say anything about whether the law was truly needed. Morrissette and other critics said there are already laws on the books to attack fraud, the real intent here is to drive down voter turnout, especially Democratic voters.
A similar bill passed the House last year, but was stopped in the Senate. Tibbs said, with Republicans now in control in the Senate, she's optimistic the bill will make it to the Governor's desk this year.