Position – Voting Rights
November 1, 2017
Missouri’s New Voter Photo Identification Requirement
The State of Missouri must increase the resources devoted to implementation of its new voter photo identification requirement and must apply those resources to foster voting by all eligible Missourians, not to deter voting.
The universal right to vote is essential in a system of representative government.
All eligible voters in the State of Missouri must be able to cast their ballots and have their votes counted without confusion, fear or intimidation.
The new Missouri law requiring registered voters to furnish official photo identification at the poll in order to vote will disproportionately affect the exercise of the right to vote by people of color, low-wage workers, seniors, people with disabilities, young people and women.
According to a study by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, this law will not significantly reduce voter fraud. The Center states, “The recent hunt for voter fraud began in MO in 2000…yet the allegations yielded only six substantiated cases of MO votes cast by ineligible voters…amounting to an overall rate of 0.0003%.” None of these problems could have been resolved by requiring photo ID at the polls.
Therefore, the threat of voter fraud is not based in fact, but it has been used to scare Missourians into thinking that photo identification of registered voters at the polling place is necessary and will be effective. In fact, according to David Kimball, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, there have been no cases of in-person voter fraud in MO in the last 16 years.
Blurring the distinctions between absentee ballot fraud, registration in multiple jurisdictions, casting duplicate ballots and voter impersonation is intentionally deceptive and misleading.
Requiring signature of a legally binding affidavit or a photograph as alternatives to official photo identification will intimidate, confuse or alienate some registered voters, who may decide not to vote to avoid these requirements.
OUR ADVOCACY POINTS
All eligible voters in Missouri must be notified by mail of the new requirement as soon as possible and 45 days before any election in their jurisdictions, including detailed information on how to obtain the required photo identification at no charge.
Voters who do not have the required underlying documents, like a certified birth certificate, must be given fast-track special assistance.
All offices of the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Revenue where photo identification is offered must be open on evenings and weekends to increase access for working people and people with limited access to transportation.
All local election officials must be given clear guidance and training to assure uniform implementation across the state. Registered voters’ right to cast a ballot or not must not be based on interpretations by individual election officials.