Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

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.

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  • give minorities more credit says:

    I work for a college in the city. Most of our students are African American. I can tell you that I’ve never encountered one without a state id of some kind.

    I am also disabled. Why would I not be able to get a state ID? Do you think I am not smart enough? Who are you define my limitations or ability? I don’t appreciate that.

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  • bjpinmo says:

    Personally, I think it is racist and demeaning that many Democrats assume their followers can’t figure out how to get an ID.

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  • tired says:

    How long are liberals going to play the race card in every single argument? As law scholar pointed out below, the bill has provisions to ensure everyone has access to photo IDs… all provided free of charge by the state.

    The better question is why are Democrats so opposed to Voter ID laws?

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  • legal man says:

    1) People born before 1941 or that have religious objections are not subject to the identification requirements
    2) The state will pay for non-driver’s license ID cards

    So how exactly does the voter ID bill disenfranchise voters?

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  • law scholar says:

    Not to mention Missouri is a notorious state for voter fraud. Anyone well-versed in the history of Missouri politics would know that.

    Case in point: Did you know fifteen Missouri counties have more voters than reported in the census population? I mean, as recently as 2005, a federal lawsuit found 37 Missouri election jurisdictions had more voters than voting age population.

    Plus, if you actually read the bill, you would know that:
    1) The bill exempts anyone born before Jan 1, 1941, from having to show identification
    2) The state of Missouri will pay for photo IDs

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  • law scholar says:

    You do realize empirical political science studies in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wisconsin – four states where they have voter ID laws – show that these regulations haven’t been barriers at all, right? In the Georgia lawsuit (NAACP v Billups), the NAACP were unable to produce even a single person who was unduly affected by the 2006 voter ID law.

    Not to mention the US Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s photo ID law in 2008, concluding that it imposed no undue burden on voters. Who wrote the majority decision? Must have been a conservative right? Nope, it was none other than Justice John Paul Stevens.

    Studlife, I strongly urge you to do your research the next time you write these staff editorials. They are constantly riddled with factual errors and mistaken assumptions.

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878