Apparently inspired by hordes of invisible illegal immigrants sneaking across the Missouri border to vote in our elections, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, has offered legislation to stop the menace once and for all. She explains HB 1317 in her latest report to her constituents:
“The Honor System” worked in this country for a very long time, but this is 2008 and it is time for some verification. This week I presented my bill, HB1317, which will require the local election authority to verify the citizenship of those who register to vote. It always amazes me when anyone argues against legitimizing the process by making sure that the voter registrant is a citizen of the United States. We all want accurate and fair elections. Why would anyone not want to safeguard the process?
Over half of the 9/11 hijjackers were registered to vote in this country. Anyone can register to vote by simply providing a utility bill and checking a box to claim citizenship. For years, the push has been to make registration almost effortless so that one can register almost anywhere, including online. Missouri legislature passed a law that required a photo ID when voting, but our Supreme Court declared that this was a hardship on the voters and struck it down. My bill moves verification one step earlier in the process by verifying the legal status when the prospective voter applies to register. This puts no burden on the voter and only asks the county clerks to authenticate or verify the information received.
Although public hearings allow for testimony from any group or person, we often receive short notices for our public hearings. That and the driving distance often limit who can show up to testify. So, while I heard from many people who would have liked to testify for this bill, I understand the difficulty in making it to Jefferson City on short notice.
With HB 1317, the one negative comment noted that county clerks would have to work harder to verify the legal status of the voters. Our law already states that the voters must be American citizens; this is merely verification that existing law is followed. Citizens expect as much from our clerks.
Ultimately, the problem is that registering to vote is as simple as showing a utility bill to prove your residence. I like to trust people, but the government owes our citizens a higher standard than just taking someone’s word for it. The voters expect our elections to be run fair and square. Every vote that is cast by a non-citizen disenfranchises a legitimate vote. Missouri should put something in place now before it is too late get this problem under control.
I would love to see some evidence that this is actually a major problem in Missouri. It appears to be little more than another example of unneeded election year legislation.