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Standing Up for Voting Rights

All Missouri voters should have an equal opportunity to have their say on election day. But in recent years, Republican politicians across the country have been manipulating our election laws to make it harder for millions of eligible citizens to vote - including seniors and veterans. These politicians want to require voters to show types of ID that they know many people don’t have and didn’t need before.

WHAT MISSOURIANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALEC-INSPIRED ATTACKS ON VOTING RIGHTS 

  • As the world’s leading democracy, America should have a voting system that is free, fair, and equally accessible to everyone. In a nation founded on the principle that we’re all created equal, voting is the one time when we are all equal and have the same say.
  • Voters should be choosing their leaders, not the other way around— all Missouri voters should have an equal opportunity to have their say on election day.
  • From its founding principles to the Voting Rights Amendments, our Constitution guarantees our right to vote — whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor. But instead of defending the Constitution, some Republican politicians are trying to dismantle our constitutional guarantee to have a voice in our democracy.
  • People who aren’t who they claim to be shouldn’t vote, but politicians trying to hold onto their jobs shouldn’t exclude thousands of eligible Missourians from participating equally in our democracy either.

MORE BACKGROUND

  • More than 20 million American citizens do not have government-issued photo identification, including an even greater percentage of seniors and families hit hardest by the recession. (They could be, for instance, people who let their driver’s license expire after they lost their car or retired veterans who get by fine with their VA ID.
  • In 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a government-issued photo ID requirement is “a heavy and substantial burden on Missourian’s free exercise of the right of suffrage,” and violated the Missouri Constitution’s right to vote and right to equal protection under law. The proposed constitutional amendment would weaken those existing protections from the constitution.
  • African Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, the working poor and students are twice as likely to lack a non-expired state ID.
  • In a study of 10 states with anti-voting ID laws, more than 10 million eligible voters — including 500,000 without a car — live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.
  • Voter fraud is already a serious crime, punishable by 5 years in prison & a $10,000 fine.

RESPONDING TO YOUR CRAZY UNCLE

Your crazy uncle says: “If you need ID to buy cold medicine or to get on an airplane, you should have to show ID to vote.” You say:  

  • Voting is a fundamental freedom guaranteed by more Constitutional amendments than any other right we have. Getting on an airplane and buying cold medicine aren’t enshrined in our Constitution.
  • People who aren’t who they claim to be shouldn’t vote, but strict, one-size-fits-all laws that require one specific type of ID — which politicians know may voters don’t have — will only deny thousands of Missourians their right to vote.
  • Republican politicians are trying to rig our voting system for one purpose alone: to keep Americans they don’t like from being counted at all by imposing requirements they can’t meet.

Your crazy uncle says: “We need new laws to protect our elections against rampant voter fraud.” You say: 

Your crazy uncle says: “People should be required to prove their citizenship before registering to vote.” You say:

  • There’s no question that protecting the integrity of our elections is vitally important and only citizens should vote. That’s why we have laws and protections already on the books to do just that — like the requirement to certify that you’re a U.S. citizen on your voter registration form.
  • That certification of citizenship on your voter registration form is made under the threat of criminal penalties, and like statements under oath in criminal cases, they are proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. That is why the Arizona law is redundant and unnecessary.
  • Requiring people to “show your papers” before registering to vote like Arizona’s Proposition 200 also violates the federal voter registration law. And it has already harmed real people — including veterans and seniors.
  • That’s not the American way. In our democracy, making voting unnecessarily hard is illegal for a reason. Our leaders should be making sure all eligible voters can vote, not making it harder.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ALEC-INSPIRED ANTI-VOTING ATTACKS

Online resources: 

Missouri editorials on ALEC-inspired anti-voting measures:

  • Joplin Globe, May 2008: Photo ID not needed
    “Those without photo ID generally are women, the elderly or the poor. We have enough bureaucracy. Heaping on one more barrier, or making the system even more prohibitive for some, smacks of political gamesmanship. Let’s get down to taking care of problems that are real.”

  • Sedalia Democrat, August 2013: Voter photo ID bill misguided, unneeded
    “Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, was spot-on accurate when, during a Feb. 9 House Elections Committee hearing, he called Cox’s measure a ‘solution looking for a problem.’”

  • Kansas City Star, August 2012: Photo ID law risks stripping voters of rights
    “The regrettable and real risk is that the photo ID requirement will lead some students, non-drivers (often poor and/or minority) and seniors to skip the polls rather than worry about whether they will be permitted to cast a ballot.”

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 2012: It's pitch perfect that Voter ID measure tossed as a fraud
    “It should be no surprise the voter identification measure contained a dishonest summary, considering that the entire proposal is one falsehood built upon another. Republicans know very well what they're trying to do. They're trying to reduce Democratic votes in the presidential election. They're trying to cook the books in their favor. But they've gotten so good at lying among themselves over the true nature of Voter ID legislation that they forgot they were lying to the voters, too.” 

THE 2015 LEGISLATION

Representative Tony Dugger, who has been a member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force, filed two bills (HB 30 and HJR1) to restrict voting rights for tens of thousands of eligible Missouri voters by imposing new government-issued photo identification rules. ALEC has made restrictive anti-voting laws a priority in the past, successfully pushing their model bill in multiple states. Dugger has long been a member of ALEC and has served on the ALEC task force which is responsible for approving their model legislation on voting issues. For more on ALEC’s influence in the Missouri legislature, see Progress Missouri’s reports atwww.ProgressMissouri.org/ALEC