Once again the forces of evil are trying to get themselves reelected. This time those who say they are defenders of our Constitution are stabbing that document in the heart by trying to deny people their right to vote.
Like Jason Voorhees in some bad ‘Friday the Thirteenth” movie, voter ID has been resurrected. No matter how often the courts and good and decent people shoot it with a silver bullet or put a wooden stake through its heart, it comes back to life.
A few years ago, Missouri passed a voter ID bill which, fortunately, was struck down by the Missouri’s Supreme Court. Let me relate the problems I had with the law before it was overturned.
If you’re an 87 year old woman who has lived in the St. Louis area for your whole life, had a driver’s license for over fifty years, never been a felony, and wants to vote – Good luck. Especially, for anyone that does not have someone to escort them around. At least that’s what I found out trying to help my mother in law to get a voter ID card.
I and the rest of the family had the emotional task of moving my in laws from a retirement home to full time care. Along with the physical move came the administrative nightmare of changing the address, phone number, cable, and insurance. Now, add to that list getting voter ID cards.
My father in law would be a lesser problem. I had his birth certificate; and being a man, he has never had a name change. Unfortunately, without her birth certificate, my mother in law would be a challenge.
I went to the Department of Revenue website to see what I needed to do. If you were renewing a valid driver’s license, it was clear that there was an exception for needing a birth certificate for those over 75 year old. It was less clear for my mother in law, who hasn’t had a valid license this millennium.
A call to the DOR, in Jeff City, quickly confirmed her need for a birth certificate. My request that Governor Blunt go over to Illinois and pick it up for me was met with a chuckle and an “I don’t think so.” That chuckle turned to laughter as she overheard me mutter, “Only two more years.”
A call to the St. Clair County recorder verified that, yes, indeed my mother in law was born; and for only $11.95, I could confirm it. I thought I was home free, but then I remembered that the website had said something about other proof being need if there was a name change. I realized her birth certificate would have a name different than the one she has used for the last 67 years.
Another call to Jeff City established that indeed a marriage certificate was needed. A call to St. Louis County would substantiate that for another $6.00, I could affirm that she was not living in sin.
Now, I am not against jumping through some hoops if there really was a problem in voter fraud, but my feeling is this was just an example of what business school textbooks refer to as management by exception. An example of management by exception would be a teacher demanding a 1000 word essay on getting to school on time from the entire class just because one particular child is always late.
The nexus of voter ID law lies in the election of 2000. The St. Louis Board of Elections sent out a letter to all registered voters who had not voted within the last year warning those not replying would be removed from the voter list. This resulted in 33,000 names taken off the list.
Lacy Clay, running for his retiring father’s Congressional seat, warned the Board that they had taken thousands of legitimate voters off the list; and if they didn’t allow these people to vote, they would be sued. The Board did not relent and chaos rained on November 7th.
Because of that chaos, a federal judge ordered the polls open until 10 PM and to accept votes from anyone that showed up. The voter’s registration would be verified later. The next day a firestorm of protest began with Senator Bond’s hysterically, fist pounding, accusatory speech. The culmination of this outrage is the current voter ID law.
Was there massive voter fraud, or was this new law just management by exception punishing all voters because of the abuse of a few?
Secretary of State Matt Blunt investigated the 2000 election and found that out only 135 people that voted were not registered. In addition, 14 dead people voted, 86 voted twice and another 1400 votes were in one way or another questionable.
Those numbers might seem shocking, but put into context the questionable votes were only six hundredths of one percent of the total Missouri vote. That’s like worrying about 60 cent of a 1000 dollar bill. All Missourians are now being punished for the misdeeds of an extremely small minority. This is classic management by exception.
In the rush to correct a flaw that was affecting only a few hundred votes, politicians are disenfranchising ten of thousands of elderly and disabled. Despite hundreds of thousands of Missourians needing non driving voter ID’s, less than 500 were issued in the first month of the program.
In a Post Dispatch poll, only 18 percent of Missourians favored voter ID’s. In the Legislatures’ special session four years ago, legislators need to be repeal or revised the voter ID law so Missourians are ruled by what is best for the majority not by exceptions.