It’s spring! Robins are bursting with song, the Bartlett Pear trees look like huge bouquets, and another voter i.d. bill is sitting in a House committee. Guess which two of those spring rituals are good news.
In 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the voter i.d. law Republicans had passed as unconstitutional, but last year SCOTUS upheld an even stricter voter i.d. law in Indiana, so Missouri’s right wingers have decided it’s time to try again. They will, more than likely, get the bill out of committee on a party line vote, and if they do, House Republicans will flip the Democratic party the bird without a second thought.
Their “yea” votes will be saying in effect: You know all those tight elections, those squeakers you managed to pull off? Kiss those victories goodbye in the future, because we’re about to rob you of 240,000 of your voters. If this bill had been law last November, Brad Lager would be the State Treasurer instead of Clint Zweifel and Mike Gibbons would have defeated Chris Koster.
Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, is on the committee hearing the bill, and he tells me that scads of people testified against it from diverse political groups: The League of Women Voters, the ACLU … all those groups who recognize that this is an expensive solution to a non-problem. Those who testified for it were all closely tied to the GOP, either working directly for the party or for connected groups like Eagle Forum.
One of the points the proponents raised was the necessity of keeping illegal immigrants from voting. Right. Because we’re so deluged with news articles about hordes of illegal immigrants showing up at polling places with their fake i.d.s. As if. Those folks want nothing more than to work and not. get. noticed. The few we have, that is. They’re going to give polling places a wide berth–if they’re even aware of when the elections are and where they’re held.
No, it isn’t immigrants this law will affect; it’s poor people, blacks, women, and the elderly. You’re going to find a very high proportion of Democrats in that demographic. And you can assume that any elderly poor black woman is a Democrat. Lillie Lewis, pictured at left, was 78 when the photo was taken last year. She is holding up a letter from the state of Mississippi saying it has no record of her birth. If this ballot initiative passes, she won’t be able to vote anymore.
I don’t know whether Lillie is poor, but based on the fact that she fits the profile otherwise, I’d bet my bank account that she’s a Democrat.
Of course, just because HJR 9 gets out of the House doesn’t make it a slam dunk. Senators are sometimes more sensible than their House counterparts, and we might get some R’s to cross the aisle on this. If not, it goes to the ballot in 2010, and we will have our work cut out for us.
It does get tiresome scrambling to redefeat all the bad Republican ideas in Missouri.
photo courtesy of The New York Times