Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newman: Photo Voter ID law is designed to prevent a problem that does not exist

In her latest report, Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, notes that Voter ID, which will keep thousands of Missourians from voting, is being pushed as a necessity to stop voter fraud...even though the last documented instance of voter fraud in the state occurred in 1936.)

Tuesday at 7:30 am bright and early my House Elections committee heard HB1104, the recycled photo ID bill that has been filed every year since 2006. The sponsor, Rep. Schoeller (R-Springfield), admitted that Missouri “most folks” have a drivers license – which would be required for all voters to provide if this bill becomes law.

I pointed out in questioning him for almost an hour that the Missouri State Constitution applies to ALL folks in our state, not just “most”. The MO Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that voter ID requirements were “unconstitutional”.

Many of the voters, elderly, disabled, working poor and more, who would be disenfranchised under HB1104 have been long time active voters. The 2012 fiscal note of HB1104 estimates over 300,000 current voters could be affected.

Rep. Schoeller also said anyone born prior to 1941 or having a religious objection would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. I pointed out that via statute, provisional ballots are only available in elections with federal and statewide candidates, eliminating all local, municipal and special elections.

And---most provisional ballots are not counted. In the 2008 general election, nearly 7,000 provisional ballots were cast in Missouri but only 1700 were counted.

I asked Rep. Schoeller when the last time any voter impersonation fraud was documented and prosecuted in Missouri. The answer? 1936.

Yes you read that correctly – 76 years ago during the Pendergast era when gangsters controlled public offices in Kansas City and Jefferson City through voter intimidation and corruption of the ballot box.

Is suspecting hypothetical voter fraud in MO justified in disenfranchising 10,000 Missourians? 100,000 Missourians? Is hypothetical voter fraud justified in telling Joy Lieberman, an 80 year old grandmother, University City school board member for 26 years and a voter since 1952 that she can no longer vote under voter ID proposals? I say most emphatically, no.

HB1104 passed out of committee Tuesday by a partisan vote of 7-3 and goes to the House Rules Committee for approval prior to being placed on the House floor calendar. The Rules Committee is chaired by Rep. John Diehl, the previous voter ID bill sponsor.

I thank those who passionately testified against HB1104 including Ron Berry, MO Secretary of State’s office; Denise Lieberman, senior attorney with the national Advancement Project; Jeremy LaFaver, ACLU of Eastern Missouri; Farilyn Hale of the STL chapter of National Council of Jewish Women and Norma Collins of Missouri AARP. No one testified in favor of voter ID.

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