A more than four-year legal challenge to overturn Oklahoma’s voter identification law was rejected this week by a state district court judge, who upheld the constitutionality of the measure. Oklahoma County District Court Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons dismissed the case Monday after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the Oklahoma State Election Board and Tulsa resident Delilah Christine Gentges. Gentges’ attorney said he plans to appeal the decision. Gentges sued after 74 percent of voters approved a state question in 2010 that requires every voter, before casting a ballot, to show proof of identity issued by the U.S. government, Oklahoma state government or an Oklahoma tribal government. Like in many other states that have passed similar laws, voter-rights advocates here argued the requirement is unconstitutional because it interferes with residents’ right to vote.
Tulsa attorney James Thomas, who represents Gentges, said the law also unfairly targets those who struggle to obtain or pay for a government identification, such as young voters, elderly voters, minorities and those living in poverty.
“We estimated in this case that there are more than one million people in Oklahoma without identification,” he said. “And the thing is when you make it harder to vote, people just stop voting.”