By Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant
Hello again, everybody! Previously, I have written about “bumper sticker politics,” where extremely complex issues are made to fit on a bumper sticker.
A measure I helped defeat last week is a perfect example of bumper sticker politics at its worst. The issue was euphemistically called “Voter ID.” The perception of a “Voter ID” bill is positive; it simply requires anyone to show identification before voting. That sounds reasonable.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. The bill would have allowed a photocopy of a current utility bill to be used as valid voter identification. Rather than protecting from voter fraud, that provision opens the door for illegal votes to be cast as unchallengeable legal ballots.
My electric bill, like thousands of Oklahomans, arrives as a postcard. Say someone wanted to cast an illegal vote – such a person simply would have to get one of these electric bills long enough to make a photocopy of it.
The postcard then could be returned to the mailbox from which it was taken. The homeowner would have no idea their bill was taken. With the photocopy of the stolen bill, the thief would be allowed to vote unchallenged and counted as a legal vote.
A second scenario is just as frightening. Say a senior citizen from a rural area is driven by a grandchild to the polls. This senior citizen has never driven and has no driver’s license. They have never been challenged on their identity; as is often the case in rural Oklahoma, the poll worker might even know the voter.
Without the identification required by this bad bill, the poll worker would have no choice: the senior citizen could cast only a provisional vote, one not directly placed in the ballot box. Only when the voter has proven his or her identity would the vote be counted.
Two scenarios – one in which an illegal vote is counted as an unchallenged legal vote, and one in which a legal vote is given less credence that an illegal one – show the devil in the details of this bill. It was a bad bill – and I am proud to have helped defeat it.
Come election time, you will only hear about how a good “Voter ID” bill was killed and how those who helped kill it should be defeated. That is all that will fit on a postcard or a bumper sticker.
The truth is the issue was considerably more complicated. Also, voter fraud really is not a problem in Oklahoma. By solving a problem that does not exist, we would have created many others.
Few issues are simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker, and we have to dig deeply into these bills to see what they really would do. As your senator, I owe each of you nothing less.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week and may God bless you all.