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Law & Principles

Ray Carter | February 16, 2022

Voter ID could be placed in state constitution

Ray Carter

Oklahomans could place voter ID requirements into the state constitution under a measure that has won committee approval in the state Senate.

Senate Joint Resolution 48, by Sen. Greg Treat, would allow voters to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to require voter identification to cast a ballot in Oklahoma elections.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which required that citizens provide proof of identity to vote in elections. That proposal received the support of 74 percent of voters.

SJR 48 largely duplicates the 2010 state question, but where the 2010 vote only changed state law SJR 48 would place the Voter ID language into the Oklahoma Constitution.

“I believe we need to do everything we can to protect election security and integrity, and this SJR 48 seeks to do so,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Under the measure, the Legislature would retain the power to set what constitutes proof of identity, Treat said.

He said the measure was prompted, in part, by concern over congressional efforts to strip states of the right to require voter identification.

“The U.S. Congress, through HR 1 and subsequent bills, has tried to erode the ability of states to make sure that they run their elections in a manner that works for each state,” Treat said. “So, there’s multiple problems we’re trying to address and make sure that states—and our voters—have a great deal of confidence in our election process.”

Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax has publicly warned that one election bill promoted by congressional Democrats “guarantees chaos in our elections” in Oklahoma and makes it “virtually impossible to verify the identity of in-person and absentee voters.” He has also warned that another congressional election measure would “make it harder to administer fair and secure elections” and “create a new risk of undetectable fraud.”

SJR 48 drew bipartisan support.

“It may surprise people for someone sitting on my side of the aisle to know that I support voter ID,” said Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman. “I like how we do it in Oklahoma. There’s lots of options available to show.”

Boren said she has helped many individuals obtain identification so they can receive state services, including homeless individuals and youths in the process of emancipation who are not old enough to have a driver’s license yet. She said identification is “very important” for many routine activities, including engaging in commerce and securing housing.

“Not having ID is a huge stumbling block for people,” Boren said. “So I’m not one of the people that say, ‘Well, some people don’t have ID, so then therefore we need to change our election security around it.’ Instead, I think the opposite. I think that we need to be more dutiful to make sure that all people have the ID that they need to interact not only with voting, but with all aspects of society.”

SJR 48 passed the Senate Rules Committee on a 13-0 vote.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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