Henry Vetoes Voter Identification Bill

Wednesday, April 8th 2009, 4:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9 for NewsOn6.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Brad Henry has issued a statement that he has vetoed Senate Bill 4, the Voter ID measure that landed on his desk late last week.

"The right to vote is one of our most precious freedoms, guaranteed to all eligible U.S. citizens regardless of their race, gender, religion, income level or social status, and policymakers must be especially careful when tinkering with this fundamental right," said Gov. Henry in his veto message.

The Governor had until midnight to sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The bill would have changed the way Oklahomans vote by requiring voters present a valid form of identification to poll workers before receiving a ballot. The ID could be a voter identification card, a driver's license, or some other government-issued card.

"Senate Bill 4 would have established an unnecessary impediment to exercising this most basic freedom in conflict with Article III, Sec. 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution which states, 'All elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage...' 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 by the restrictions contained in SB 4," Gov. Henry said.

Opponents of the measure include the League of Women Voters and the AARP, which argue it would present an unnecessary barrier to our "most fundamental expression of citizenship."

Supporters of SB 4 said if the Governor did veto the bill, they would move forward with legislation that would put the Voter ID issue to a vote of the people.