Rep. Stacey Newman (D-HD 73) heads the Progressive Caucus in the Missouri House. Speaking at the Missouri Progressive Action Group’s October meeting, Newman laid out the Voter ID situation. ALEC has proposed these voter suppression laws in–count ’em!–34 states. But Newman says that we were the first. In 2006, Missouri Republicans passed a law requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls. They suffered a setback when the state supreme court ruled the law unconstitutional, but all that did was determine them to change the constitution. That’s what they aim to do on the 2012 ballot. There are still two or three legal scuffles going on, with left wing activists charging that the proposed language is unacceptable. If those don’t stop the ballot initiatives, then the matter will be on the ballot next year.
During this year’s legislative session, though, the matter arose. Republicans were trying to pass, in advance of the ballot success they’re hoping for next year, enabling legislation. That’s because, even if the constitution allows for a photo ID requirement, there has to be a law spelling out how the system will operate.
Democrats were able to stop that legislation through the veto process. Republicans need four Democratic votes in the current House membership to override a gubernatorial veto. And the Democrats stood strong. But be sure that Republicans will try to pass enabling legislation again next spring.
The hypocrisy of Rs in trying to enact this new “poll tax”, which will fall mostly on Democratic voters, is twofold. First, in the current budget crunch, they’ll have to come up with $20 million over three years to fund the program. If they fail to appropriate the money, then county clerks will have to find the funds. And we all know how well local entities are doing in the today’s recession, right? So the party that screams that government ought to spend less might well shove the expense onto already crippled local governments, and all this will be in order to stop … a problem that isn’t. There is no voter impersonation fraud. There hasn’t been A. Single. Case. in Missouri of someone showing up at the polls pretending to be someone he’s not in order to vote. Not one case.
Twenty million to solve that problem, huh? No, twenty million to silence some of those Democratic voters.
What I just wrote is the quick and dirty summary of what Newman had to say. The full account is here: