Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stacey Newman: We have better things to do than making it harder to vote

In her latest report, Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, explains her thoughts about photo voter ID legislation.

You might think that we had better things to do in the Capitol than making it harder for Missourians to vote.
 As you know, I have taken the lead on fighting Voter ID bills since first elected four years ago.  Every major newspaper in Missouri (and many throughout the country) has repeatedly denounced efforts since 2006 to prevent lawful voters from voting....the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Star, the Joplin Globe, Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia Missourian and even the Sedalia Democrat, home of the bill sponsor.  
 Every Democratic Governor and every Democratic Secretary of State in the country have consistently vetoed or denounced voter ID bills.  Every Democratic legislature has stood strong in opposition.
 Thursday the House passed HB48 & 216 and the companion resolution to change the Missouri Constitution, HJR 5 & 12  after being fast tracked these past three weeks and pushed the past 8 years.  They move now to the Senate.
 We debated Voter ID bills for over 5 hours on Wednesday in three separate sessions (breaking for committee hearings) and then again on Thursday for 2 hours. Debate was then shut down by the Majority Floor Leader John Diehl (R-Town and Country) when it was evident the GOP had run out of those willing to debate.  However, many Democratic legislators were still standing at microphones waiting to be recognized and anxious to speak.
 Requiring a government issued photo identification in order to vote in Missouri is a two-parter:
 1)  The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that requiring Voter ID's in order to vote is unconstitutional.  Their 6-1 decision stated that mandating Voter ID's is a "heavy and substantial burden on Missouri's free exercise of right of suffrage".  
 So, for Voter ID to become legal,  we must FIRST CHANGE our state constitution by the vote of the people.  This would be a first for Missouri ---adjusting a fundamental right that has been unaltered since 1875.  The earliest this could be on a statewide ballot would be November, 2014.  The ballot proposition would  NOT go to the Governor or the Secretary of State, but directly to the ballot, unless stopped in court.
 2) If and only then, would a Voter ID bill, if passed and signed, go into effect.
 "Republicans keep trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist by suppressing the votes of hundreds of thousands of Missourians, most of whom are likely Democratic voters."  St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, February 13, 2013 - read it here.
  • Over 250,000 current Missouri voters do not have government or state issued photo identification (a drivers or non-drivers license) and MOST IMPORTANTLY, cannot easily obtain the required documents to get one. As the Missouri Supreme Court ruled, the effort to obtain out-of-state/country birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc. for many is a substantial burden in both time and cost - and for some, their birth certificates don't even exist.  Many are longtime voters who have done nothing wrong and would lose their right to vote.
  • These proposals primarily affect seniors, veterans, working poor, minorities, and even out-of-state college students (groups who tend to vote Democratic).  They deserve a real ballot which counts.
  • GOP leaders, GOP governors and GOP consultants throughout the country have repeatedly admitted publicly that Voter ID proposals are on purpose -restricting voters is their strategy to win elections.  They admit to rigging the vote in attempts to save their elected jobs.
  • Not one case of voter inpersonation fraud has EVER been reported in  Missouri (very few around the country).  Not one case. Any registration fraud would NOT be impacted by these bills.
However, Voter ID bill sponsor Rep. Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) wrote in his Capitol newsletter last week:  "the state has a long history of voter fraud, especially in urban centers".  I and others asked him repeatedly what he meant.
 “Jim Crow is alive in this room today,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia who served in the Legislature in the 1980s and ’90s before returning in 2009. “This is the single most immoral act that I’ve ever seen happen in my time in the General Assembly.”
“The effect of the bill is indisputably racial,” Kelly said. “I can’t look into anyone’s soul and determine the motive.”  St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 15, 2013 - read the article here.
 No matter what you look like or how much money you make, voting makes us equal.  These anti-voting bills are designed solely for one reason:  preventing lawful voters from voting.
 Voting is a definitive American right - protected in the U. S. Constitution and emphasized even stronger in our Missouri Constitution (unlike many states).
 Every GOP state representative voted NO on both bills.  HB48 &216 passed the House 105-48.  
 The resolution, HJR 5 & 12, passed by a vote of 107-46.  Two Democrats, broke ranks and voted with the GOP:  Rep. Vicki England (D- South St. Louis County) and Rep. Ira Anders (D-Independence).


Anonymous said...

Stacey, look at it this way:

A photo i.d. with a mag-strip with individuals details could be handed to the poll judge; the judge could verify the card belongs to the face presenting it;the judge could then swipe the card into a scanner to verify validity and approves the voter to vote; the voter could then swipe the card into the electronic voting machine and all of the candidates and issues specific to that voter could appear on a touch screen; and, after voting and touching the 'finished' icon the electronic records would not allow another vote using that card until the next election.

Issuing the card could be as easy as getting a drivers license.

Thank of the long-term savings in the election process and voter fraud would then be easily identified if a poll judge allowed the wrong person to cast a ballot. Punish this by some time in the slammer and the voting process is safe and sound and this bull shit stops.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous #1 - Look at it this way. We have ZERO cases of voter fraud in MO, only some delusional claims with NO proof or even charges.

We already REGISTER to vote. We already have Voter ID cards. Our names and addresses are already recorded on the voter list used at the polling locations. We already sign that list.

Long term savings???? That makes no sense. This legislation will cost MO taxpayers, not save money, short term nor long term. This is a SPENDING Bill.

"...and this bull shit stops" WHAT bull shit? WHAT cases of fraud exist?

The bull shit to me is the MO TAXPAYER monies that have already been spent and will yet to be spent on this illegitimate effort. The State of MO has already LOST one such lawsuit. Hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars are being wasted. It is hypocritical to cry "cut spending" but continue to push legislation such as this.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous #2- So, #2, what's wrong with a simple, more current and probably less costly (over the long run) system upgrade with a photo ID card? Nothing really.

Looks like you are one of the BSers that #1 acurately identifies.