BY DENNIS HANSEN
In Oklahoma, voter fraud is a felony that incurs a punishment of up to five years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. With an existing law in place, with such severe punishment, one has to wonder why Rep. David Perryman, a Democrat serving HD 56, would introduce HB 1332.
This bill states:
“The State Election Board shall develop and implement a procedure for computerized finger imaging by means of an inkless finger image scanning device and shall require every applicant for voter registration or change in registration to submit to finger imaging for the purposes of proof of identity and to ensure the security of the voter registration card issued to the applicant and to enable registered voters who have no written documentation of identity to vote.”
In other words, registration will be more difficult, intimidating and time consuming, especially for elderly and lower income applicants. Not to mention more costly to the state!
To what end? What problem does this bill solve that isn’t already addressed by existing statute? The Oklahoma State Election Board has already stated that there is very little evidence of voter fraud in the state that would require more odious registration and voting laws.
State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax told News 9 in 2017 that “out of the more than 1.4 million votes cast in the last two years, only 10-20 cases of voter fraud have been reported” in the state. Most of those cases, he explained, turn out to be an elderly person forgetting about voting absentee, and showing up at their polling place.
Perryman’s bill does not indicate where funding for this unnecessary “finger printing” of voters might be found. Do you expect the election board has any spare money left over after all our special elections recently?
Legislation like HB 1332 is nearly always presented as a way to combat in-person voter fraud, a crime that is virtually non-existent, and already adequately covered in our law. But the real-world impact of these laws is to disenfranchise eligible citizens from voting at all. And that’s not something a legislator, much less a Democratic one, should be backing.
Withdraw your bill, Rep. Perryman!
– Oklahoma native Dennis Hansen lives in Oklahoma City and wrote this essay on behalf of Our Revolution Oklahoma, the state chapter of the national organization that grew out of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. It works to reclaim democracy for working people and lessen the influence of money in politics.
Editor’s Note: HB 1332 was assigned to the House Government Modernization Committee. It has not yet been scheduled for hearing.