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COLUMN: Oklahoma Voter ID Laws Are Disenfranchisement Schemes

This story was written by Mark Wolfgram, Daily O'Collegian
In passing House Bill 2956, Oklahoma House Republicans have decided to join Republicans in others states in an unconstitutional move to limit access to the ballot box.

Georgia and Indiana have passed similar pieces of legislation, and both state and federal courts have found the Georgia law to probably be unconstitutional.

The courts have suspended the law. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division found in a 4-1 decision that Georgia's law was "likely to discriminate against African Americans." Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales ignored this finding, approved the Georgia law and then had the courts overturn the department's position.

During the Bush Administration, half the career lawyers have left the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice out of disgust with the Republican partisanship in the department.

If a voter has to pay for a piece of ID to vote, it is simply put a poll tax, and this is illegal according to the 24th Amendment of the US Constitution. Period.

The motivation of Oklahoma's Republicans and Republicans in other states are dubious for several reasons. First, they stand to gain politically, making sure that the poor and minorities are less likely to vote.

Second, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite the Department of Jusice's brow-beating and firing of federal prosecutors who fail to provide the requested evidence.

The evidence cited in the O'Colly story of "voter fraud" would not have been prevented by having voter ID -- the people who showed up and voted were not even registered!

A student ID is not going to prove you are registered. Third, the pieces of photo ID the Republicans claim will secure the ballot box are themselves some of the most insecure pieces of identification. Has anyone out there ordered a beer before being 21?

Voting is a civil right, which means that the state shall place no barrier between the citizenry and their exercise of these rights.

If the Republicans fear for the security of the ballot box, then it is incumbent upon them and the state of Oklahoma to make voter ID cards available at no cost to the citizens of the state.

To claim this is an issue of "personal responsibility" is a typical Republican red herring. First, read the U.S. Constitution, then legislate.
© 2008 Daily O'Collegian via U-WIRE