DSS, Marsha Haefner, Missouri Department of Social Services, Missuri, National Voter Registration Act, NVRA, Voter Registration, welfare
Today Rep. Marsha Haefner (R-095) expressed her concerns about the over-burdened and under-staffed Department of Social Services (DSS). More exactly, she expressed outrage that the DSS was devoting resources to register its clients to vote:
“I had no idea that that was the function of Missouri (Dept. of) Social Services,” Haefner said. “We are paying state employees, who are having a problem getting their paperwork so we can get reimbursed from the federal government, we’re paying them on our nickel to register voters.”
Perhaps if Rep. Haefner had been paying attention to the issue back in 2009, she might have remembered a successful suit that was brought against the DSS precisely because it was not fulfilling its legal obligation under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) to assist its clients to register to vote – and that many counties were, in fact, obstructing registration through actions such as failing to maintain adequate supplies of voter registration forms and not turning in registration forms that had been filled out. As the Acting DSS Director Brian Kincade noted, Missouri must comply with the federal law and “not registering voters is not an option.”
The intent of the NVRA is to make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Surely Rep. Haefner must agree that it is important to facilitate voting for everyone, especially for those who might experience difficulties getting information about, or access to voter registration. Missouri benefits when its citizens are heard in Washington and when their true interests are represented – and quibbling about whose nickel is involved is a stupid waste of time. We get what we pay for, though political representation for all is priceless.
An easy way to deal with the problems of the DSS would be to allocate sufficient funds for its staff to carry out all their duties in a timely fashion. That would mean raising revenue which would require real tax reform – and by tax reform I don’t mean corporate giveaways like SB253. Instead, Rep. Haefner, during her campaign in 2012, went on the record with a solution that involves that good old GOP standby, downsizing the client population:
… We must work on developing systems that do not provide incentives to remain dependent. There has to be a reasonable path to eliminate the need for state and federal assistance.
God forbid that folks in need who get kicked off public assistance might vote – they just might kick out the politicians who think that government does too much for those on the bottom and not enough for the one percent.
Michael, You are of course correct that Rep Haefner should have known that Missouri must comply with Motor Voter, which was passed by Democrats with no purpose in mind other than to produce more Democratic voters. She, and you should also realize that Missouri must comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which was passed by Republicans with no purpose other than to produce fewer Democratic voters.
Both were completely cynical, very badly written and took no notice of the cost and difficulty they imposed upon States. The voting process is, by any measure, worse for the two of them.
The other factor is that the administration of elections is and has been from the beginning, a purely state function. Other than ensuring compliance with Constitutional mandates (ie, the Voting Rights Act) the Feds have absolutely no proper role in the process. Further, the theory that the Feds need to “help” is ludicrous. The Feds have never demonstrated the least amount of ability or interest in a better election system. Our current process is more difficult and expensive because of the Feds; ask any election official.
Bottom line: Haefner is incorrect in specific but she articulates a very serious problem caused by the Feds.
My bad. CK