Voter I.D. bill restricts voting rights
Later this year the Missouri electorate will have to vote on legislation that would require one to possess a government-issued photo identification card to be able to vote in state or federal elections in Missouri. We believe such an action would infringe on Missouri citizens’ right to vote and is likely a partisan tactic by the Republican-held Missouri House of Representatives and Senate designed to curtail voting by demographics that are likely to vote against incumbent legislators and Republicans in general.
While Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill in question from being actually implemented immediately, it still could pass if the Missouri House garners the 75-percent support it needs to override the governor’s veto or if the Missouri electorate chooses to enact the measure at the polls later this year.
This bill, which was introduced by Republican Shane Schoeller, would disenfranchise around 230,000 Missouri voters who currently do not have a valid government-issued photo identification. Of those 230,000 voters, a large part are either African-American, elderly, disabled, not very well-off economically, or some combination of the above. In general these groups (especially African-Americans and women) tend to vote in support of Democrats.
We question the motivations behind a bill that would specifically disenfranchise Missouri voters who, in the past, have played a large part in electing Democratic legislators and executives at all levels of government. Moreover, numerous political studies have shown that the more people who vote, the more successful Democratic candidates tend to be. This is not restricting people from registering who have no interest in voting; it restricts pre-registered individuals who are already at the polls.
Clearly there is more to Republicans trying to pass this bill than simply trying to curtail voter fraud, as its sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Bill Stouffer, claims. There have been extremely few cases of voter fraud in Missouri in the past few decades; in 2004, for example, there were only two confirmed cases of voter fraud.
The cost of implementing the bill and issuing photo identification to the 230,000 Missourians this legislation would affect is estimated to be between $3 and $7 million in taxpayer dollars. That is no small sum, and we believe the money could be better used elsewhere, rather than in preventing legal citizens from voting.
Moreover, this law could make it very difficult for college students, if they don’t have a driver’s license or other form of identification, to vote. College students are another group that traditionally votes more liberally.
Voting in America is a time-honored tradition and a right guaranteed to all. For Republicans to attempt to limit the voting power of citizens, especially those who might not vote for them, is absolutely reprehensible, and we believe that no voter identification law should be on the books.