By Allan Wall, May 13, 2020
The right to vote is an honored privilege. But in order to make it work, we have to have the confidence that our voting system is secure.
The first step towards that goal is having a good registration system.
For many years I resided in Mexico, and I still visit there each year. I have observed, firsthand, the Mexican voter registration system. It’s a good one.
The Mexican government issues a voter ID card to all its voters. In order to receive one of these cards, prospective voters must prove their identity and citizenship.
Mexican voter ID cards display a photograph of the voter, the fingerprints of the voter, and various security features.
On election day, poll workers have a book with the name and photo of each voter in the precinct. They can check to see if the voter matches up with the ID.
After voting, the voter’s thumb is smudged with ink to discourage multiple voting.
We could learn from Mexico because, frankly, voter registration is a weak part of our system, and some want to keep it that way.
Many states don’t require voters to really prove their citizenship or even identity.
And many politicians and activists make it more difficult. Whenever secure voter ID is proposed, they start screaming that it disenfranchises voters.
Really? Tell that to the Mexicans and many other nationalities who have voter ID.
Here in the U.S.A. however, having a secure voter registration system continues to be controversial.
In the state of Oklahoma, in the space of four days, two key decisions relating to this issue made their ways through the political process.
A little background is in order.
Ten years ago, in 2010, Oklahoma voters approved a Voter ID law, which took effect in 2011.
The law required that, in order to vote, an Oklahoma voter produce official federal or state identification which includes a photograph and post-election expiration date.
That could be a drivers’s license, a military ID card, or even a county-issued ID. And, this being Oklahoma, it could be the official ID card of an Indian tribe.
As a last resort, a voter without photo ID could still vote provisionally, the ballot set aside until the voter’s identity could be proven after the election.
It sounds reasonable to me, or at least a step in the right direction, and most Oklahoma voters agreed, so it became law.
In 2012, however, a certain Delilah Christine Gentges filed suit against the law, claiming it created a “new barrier” for Oklahoma voters. Eight years later, the case was decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which upheld the law on May 5th, 2020. (The vote was 8-0 with one recusal).
Quoth the Oklahoma Supreme Court: “Requiring voters to show proof of identity serves to protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process and prevent in-person voter fraud.” Well-ruled!
This means that hopefully, on November 3rd, 2020, the law will be in effect for the presidential election, so Oklahoma voters can select their seven electors.
That same week, another voting-related decision was decided, dealing with absentee ballots.
I used absentee ballots for many years when I lived in Mexico, so I can relate.
On May 4th, the day before its Voter ID ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled (6-3) that voters casting absentee ballots don’t need to have them notarized.
Oklahoma’s judicial branch had spoken, but that wasn’t the end of it. The legislative and executive branches went into action.
Two days after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling, the Oklahoma House passed a law, three days later the Senate passed it and Governor Kevin Stitt signed it.
This new law says that, ok, during the COVID-19 emergency, voters don’t have to notarize their absentee ballots, but they do have to send a photocopy of their photo ID or voter registration card. And when the state of emergency is over, it’s back to notarizing ballots.
Kudos to the Oklahoma state government for defending the integrity of the Oklahoma ballot, though it’s not yet up to Mexican standards. Maybe someday …
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