Why Missouri Constitutional Amendment 6 is so dangerous

Missouri Amendment 6 is very dangerous.

Here is the short answer for why.  It will disproportionately disenfranchise disabled people, seniors, poor people, African Americans, and students. It is estimated that 225 000 voters will lose their ability to vote if this amendment is passed.

To justify the need for restricting acceptable voter ID to government issued photo ID, one political party has created a problem that doesn’t exist – voter fraud – and offers government issued ID as the solution.  Even when President Bush devoted an extraordinary amount of the Department of Justice’s time to uncovering voter fraud, they found virtually nothing.  Of the 4 billion votes cast in the last ten elections, there were 31 cases of voter fraud.  That’s like .000000001% of votes.  And yet, the conservatives have whipped up this problem and made a lot of people believe that it actually exists.

 

There are issues with voting procedures, but they’re not because people aren’t using ID or committing voter fraud.

 

In some counties, they find that dead people vote. There is an easy solution to this that does not require disenfranchising 225 000 people.  Isn’t every death recorded? Why aren’t copies of death certificates sent by the local government to the elections board before every election so that those names can be stricken from the rolls? Most other nations do exactly this. That would solve the problem. Creating stricter voting ID requirement to fix that problem is just being lazy. It’s also being disingenuous, because actually making different government bodies talk to each other is way easier and way cheaper than making every citizen pay the money to get government issued photo ID.

 
In St. Louis there were voting irregularities for absentee ballots. Government issued voter ID wouldn’t solve that problem either. The issue here was that government officials weren’t followed existing voting procedures. If they followed the procedures, there would have been no problem. The answer is to get rid of officials who aren’t following the rules, not punish the voters.

 
There is only one reason why laws requiring government issued voter ID are proposed only by Republicans. They know that America is changing. The young and people of color are leaving them in droves. They are supported primarily by older white men. The only way they can stay in power is either by taking a long hard look at their policies and bringing them in line with the new America, or by keeping people who don’t agree with them from voting. They have chosen the later. Amendment 6 and all other proposals like it are about Republicans are trying to choose their voters because voters aren’t choosing them.

 
Of course, there are those who will argue that it’s easy for people to get government photo ID. No, it is actually not. Talk to social workers who work with the poor. I have. It can be very difficult to get photo ID. If someone has lost their birth certificate or never got one, it’s virtually impossible to get state issued photo ID. If you have a birth certificate but do not have paperwork to establish yourself as a resident of the state, you can’t get state issued photo ID. If you are married and your birth certificate isn’t the same as your married name, and you can’t find your marriage license, you can’t get state issued photo ID. If you are divorced and changed your name and the legal changes haven’t gone through the system, you can’t get state issued ID.

 
Missouri has provided no funding to help people procure government issued ID. This will mean that even if you qualify for government issued ID, but are poor and struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, there is no financial support to get state issued ID. If you don’t have a car and live in a town without public transportation, it will be very difficult to get state issued ID. If you can’t afford to take time off work to go to the DMV to get your state issued ID, because to take time off work means you might not have enough for groceries or rent or school supplies for your kids, it will be very difficult to get state issued ID.

 
The writing of the bill promises tax payers that there will be no new taxes to help pay for the change. That should tell you something. It means that there is no way the Republicans who wrote this bill want those who will be disenfranchised because of it to get help with procuring state issued ID. If they really cared about the people being disenfranchised, there would be money to pay for state issued photo ID.

 
In Mississippi, they passed a bill requiring government issued photo ID to vote and then promptly closed 12 Department of Motor Vehicle offices, all located in predominantly African American areas. Sounds like that surgical precision that the Supreme Court used to characterize a similar bill that was voted unconstitutional in North Carolina.

 
Did you know that Missouri already requires ID to vote? Here’s all the forms of ID that work now.

 
1) Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state, or a local election authority of the state
2) Identification issued by the United States government or agency thereof
3) Identification issued by an institution of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school, located within the state of Missouri
4) A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter
5) Driver’s license or state identification card issued by another state

 
If Amendment 6 goes away, Number 1 will be qualified.  That little yellow slip of paper you carry in your wallet, the one you got when you registered to vote, it’s no longer good enough, even though it is state issued ID.  Because it doesn’t have a photo.  If you have ID from an agency of the state but it doesn’t have a photo, it won’t work anymore either.

 
Number 3 and 4 go away. These are the primary forms of ID used by students, poor people and African Americans.

 

Number 2 can be qualified. If Missouri will both require proof of residency and proof of citizenship a MO Drivers license might not be enough (because non-citizens can get drivers licenses) and a passport might not be enough (because it doesn’t prove state residency).

 

Number 5 will be qualified.  The ability to vote with a Drivers License from another state could be ruled out. So if you’ve moved from another state, have established residency, but haven’t changed your drivers license yet, you’re out of luck. In Missouri, if you come from another state, you have to go through the full drivers test to get your new license – written and driving. It’s not just a matter of going to the DMV with your out of state license and getting a new one. So even getting a drivers license is at least a half day away from work.  If your poor, that’s going to be onerous.  You might choose to put it off as long as possible because you need your small pay check to pay the utility bill, the rent, or feed your kids.

 
In Missouri, it is estimated that 225 000 citizens will be denied the right to vote if this amendment passes. It will affect seniors, the disabled, students, the poor and people of color. Not o.k. Not part of the American way.

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About kristataves

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister serving the Unitarian Church of Quincy IL. St. Louis is my residence. I am a dual American and Canadian citizen living in the great state of Missouri and building my life in this wonderful and sometimes very frustrating state.
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