OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Sen. John Ford, after facing hostile questioning from Democrats, pulled back his voter identification bill on Tuesday just as it was heading for a final vote in the Senate.
Ford, R-Bartlesville, said the tone of the questions led him to believe “I didn’t have the votes” to win final approval.
“You don’t want a bill to die when you truly believe in it,” he said.
It takes 25 votes to pass a bill in the 48-member Senate, the only evenly split legislative body in the country, with 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats.
Ford said he will attempt to gauge support for the measure and try to pass it at a later date.
He said the legislation is less intrusive than an Indiana law upheld this week by the Supreme Court. The Indiana law permits voters to cast ballots only if they have a photo ID.
Ford’s plan would allow voters to show a photo ID or other forms of identification with their address on it, such as a utility bill or a bank statement.
Several Democrats, however, said the bill would hinder some people from voting, including the elderly.
Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, said similar bills have been sponsored around the country by Republicans who believe they will benefit from the legislation.
Wilson said it would cause some voters in his district to be turned away from the polls and they “will be angry with me.”
He also charged it was “a partisan bill” designed to help elect Republicans.
Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, was upset the House deleted his amendment to allow voters to register and vote on the same day if they had proper identification.
Corn said nine other states allow people to register and vote on the same day, including North Carolina, where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will compete Tuesday in the Democratic presidential primary.
Ford could not cite specific instances of voter fraud, but he said voters he talks to want assurance that all votes cast are legitimate.
He said the measure would not be burdensome to voters.
The bill would allow people without identification to cast provisional ballots.