Why Don't Voters Show ID?

Wednesday, November 5th 2008, 5:13 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Now that the election is over, county election boards will soon start going through the election rolls to see if there are any unusual votes, including anyone who voted more than once.  Many people have been asking why precinct workers don't ask for identification.  The simple answer is they don't have to.

The News On 6 wanted to know why and even sent in an undercover voter.

Monday afternoon at the Tulsa County Election Board, hundreds lined up to cast their vote early.  Among the crowd is a man with his arms crossed and wearing sunglasses, Garrett is a News On 6 producer.      

Once inside he steps to the table and makes his choice.

Flash forward to Tuesday, when Garrett went to his precinct to see what happens if he tried to vote again.  No one ever asked for his identification and there was no record he had already voted.

He was just a few moments from getting a second ballot when he told the worker he actually wouldn't be voting.

The same happened four years ago when another News On 6 employee tested the system after filling out an absentee ballot.

"The reason that they're not asked for ID is because we have no authority under the law to ask for it," said Shelly Boggs with the Tulsa County Election Board.

The regulations come from a 1907 law that has no requirement for voters to show identification.  The Oklahoma Election Board tells The News On 6 that precinct workers can ask for an ID, but they can't turn anyone away who doesn't have an ID.

"It is on an honor system, but the thing is, are voters willing to commit a felony so that they can vote twice?" said Shelly Boggs with the Tulsa County Election Board.

Later this week the election board will go through the rolls to give voters credit and determine which non-voters should be purged from the system.

That's when they'll catch those who voted twice and the details will be passed on to the district attorney's office.    

As for why there was no record that Garrett had already voted Boggs says the precinct rolls were not printed until the day before early voting began and it was impossible to get an accurate list to the precincts before Tuesday's election.   

Until the law is changed, Boggs says, her hands are tied and the system will have to trust the voter.

Bartlesville Senator John Ford is planning to introduce a bill during the next session that would require a photo I-D or a voter registration card to be shown before you vote.  The same bill was defeated in May.

It's a two-year felony to intentionally vote twice in the same election.