Voter ID necessary for fair elections

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

It is time that Democrats and Republicans cease the playground squabbling over the proposed constitutional amendment requiring Missouri voters to present a photo ID to cast a ballot. I know from experience that this opinion will trigger calls for my dismissal as an evil right wing Republican whose sole intent is the disenfranchisement of otherwise eligible Democratic voters along with a modicum of approval from the other side.

In the matter of election procedures, I am seldom at odds with Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren inasmuch as I know from years of experience her integrity and professionalism to be beyond reproach. Additionally, I believe that Ms. Noren is above playing at partisan politics with this issue but rather is convinced sincerely that the occurrence of voter fraud here is nonexistent and, that in both financial and voter eligibility impact, she is best serving the county’s interests in opposing the voter photo ID.

Nevertheless, this is an attitude observed neither nationally nor statewide by the Democratic Party and its left of center media supporters. Remember the 2006 striking down of the Missouri voter ID law and the United States Supreme Court’s upholding of similar legislation passed in Indiana and Georgia? According to Democratic legislators, spokespersons and the far left, voter ID is but a dastardly Republican plot to suppress the votes of the poor, the disabled and the minorities.

It should by now be possible for adult leadership in both parties to step forward and engineer objective compromise in solving an issue which, in reality, is just not that difficult. The last time I was a student of American and Missouri government, the legislature was responsible for establishing voter eligibility and procedures without regard for political party affiliation.

I readily admit to having no particular expertise in the occasion of voter fraud; however, to categorically deny its very existence or its proclivity to recur is to ignore history as well as to endorse fatuously the honesty, integrity and character of all who engage in politics. Requiring a picture ID to vote will not eliminate all voter fraud but, as do locks, it will serve to keep honest people honest.

As the U. S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of voter ID laws, it would appear virtually inevitable that, sooner or later, it will become law in Missouri.  Why then would it not be prudent for the lawmakers to work out the details of what constitutes reasonable legal identification, the procedures for waiving that requirement in those cases of age, infirmity or difficulty in determining time and place of birth, and solutions for other unforeseen conditions?

Does anyone have a problem with a student ID card or out of state driver’s license or other official photo identification if so authorized by the Missouri legislature? And, as an elderly, disabled minority (Boone County Republican), I find the “hardships” in obtaining the necessary documents to be somewhat overstated.

The secretary of state’s estimated 230,000 voters without proper ID is considerable; nevertheless, it pales when compared with eligible voter turnout. For example, the 2008 presidential election counted 2.9 million voters or nearly 70 percent. This high participation notwithstanding, almost 1.5 million stayed home. And, as the April 7 election turnout of about 10 percent of the Boone County eligible voters, the number of those without the credentials who actually vote falls somewhere in between.

The 2008 election results in the two government ID picture states refute the premise that such a requirement suppresses voter turnout. In fact, the reverse was true as the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found the Georgia Democratic voter turnout to have increased by 6.1 percent and in Indiana by 8.32. The corresponding Republican turnout was up .022 percent in Georgia and down by 3.57 in Indiana.

Accordingly, it would seem that it is not nearly as difficult for those who actually want to vote to acquire the necessary credentials as is advertised and that it is in the best interests of the political parties to encourage their voters to participate by actually assisting them in acquiring that documentation. The monies and efforts dispensed pro and con on voter ID would be better spent in qualifying voters. I fail to see the logic in assuming that the Democratic Party owns a monopoly on disadvantaged voters or that they are any more apt to be “disenfranchised” as a result.

Finally, one needs a photo ID to board an aircraft, pick up one’s mail or rent a DVD – shouldn't the privilege to vote command at least that much dignity?

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at

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Greg Collins May 5, 2009 | 8:33 a.m.

Some of the sloppiness in the current system that invites fraud and described "foul-ups" (hey, we found another box of ballots in the alley!) in election counts possible seems to be built into the system by design.

Motor Voter alone was and is a joke imposed fraud-friendly rules on the states by requiring driver’s license bureaus to register anyone applying for licenses, to offer mail-in registration with no identification needed, and to forbid government workers to challenge new registrants, while making it difficult to purge “deadwood” voters (those who have died or moved away).

So requiring a photo ID is neither unreasonable nor a burden ... except to the fictional, dead, and redundant voter.

(Report Comment)
Tina Edholm May 5, 2009 | 2:42 p.m.

Have you ever worked an election as a poll judge? I have. The issue is not only about requiring a photo ID. To vote, you are required a valid form of ID which is accepted legally. The list is actually quite interesting at best. A voter registration card does not include a photo ID. A large number of voters utilize this card only when they come to vote. The training involved in being a poll judge is very detailed. Wendy has sooo many safe guards and policies in place to derail any attempt at voter fraud.

To obtain a photo ID in Missouri, you have to have a copy of your birth certificate, social security card and a map to the location. Also, transportation to and from. As a worker at a poll, I can tell you some people can't walk from the car into the poll location. How are they going to obtain the necessary paperwork, go to the location, wait who knows how long, PAY FOR IT and bring it with them?
You ask a person on a fixed income to pay for a copy of their birth certificate and pay the fee for the ID.
We take for granted the ability to walk, eat at McDonalds and/or remember our wallets. Adding voting restrictions is not an attempt to curb voter fraud but something to punt around in the political arena. It will only end up costing the tax payers more money for training and IDs.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 5, 2009 | 5:03 p.m.

A legitimate state photo ID, a legitimate state drivers license or a legitimate "Wendy-issued" photo "registered-voter" card, (instead of the cardboard piece currently mailed out and lost by many), would not cost tax payers a "ton" of money. Expenses could be privately underwritten, donated or actually voted in by the tax payer.
Limited, acceptable ID would be much better than the laundry list of "ID's" which are currently acceptable at the voting booth. In my experience, almost all voters show up with their drivers license anyway. (Second most popular are state issued photo ID's.)
If there's any expense, or percieved hardhip, to the disabled or super-poor, there are United Way and Independent Living Agencies that can help.
This should make "Wendy's" job and training a lot easier as there would only be 3 acceptable photo ID's. How many acceptable ID's are on your list now? (Obviously, the more on your list the greater chance of inaccurate info or fake ID's.)
Exactly what is your your real concern?

(Report Comment)
Eleanor Roosevelt May 5, 2009 | 5:05 p.m.

Calling for VOTER ID in Missouri confuses the issues surrounding this year's proposed PHOTO ID law. I couldn't agree more that Voter ID is necessary for fair elections and that's why Missouri already HAS commonsense voter ID laws in place. Like a lot of people supporting HJR 9, Mr. Miller confuses current voter ID requirements with restrictive government-issued photo ID proposals that have been floating around the legislature for several years now.

Mr. Miller goes on to sight that hypothetical voter impersonation fraud is a logical reason to require photo ID, and in effect disenfranchise 230,000 voters. How can he equate the constitutional RIGHT to vote the same way as boarding a plane to Vegas or renting "Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle" as being one and the same as voting for the next President?

It's time that folks get their facts straight and understand that photo ID requirements threaten our access to to the ballot.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 5, 2009 | 7:13 p.m.

@Ms. Roosevelt:
"It's time that folks get their facts straight and understand that photo ID requirements threaten our access to the ballot.")
Facts can be reviewed, but how does a proper, do-able photo ID requirement threaten access to the ballot? (Unless you are faceless.)
I am certain that the "powers that be" can figure out a way so that any eligible, registered voter can have access with some kind of photo ID provision.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote May 6, 2009 | 10:08 a.m.

I am curious as to why we need a photo ID law. It seems as though the current system is quite adequate at preventing voter fraud. Mr. Miller readily admits that he doesn't have any numbers indicating the severity of the problem, but goes on to imply that surely it exists because dishonesty is rife in our political system. This seems to be a widely held belief by those on the right, and in 2002 the Bush Justice Department launched the Ballot Access and voting Integrity Initiative to crack down on the perceived problem. In the last 7 years, under this initiative, the DOJ have prosecuted approximately 140 individuals nationwide. This time span encompasses 2 Presidential elections in which over 200 million votes were cast for those two races alone in addition to all of the other state and congressional races across the country. Moreover the majority of the cases involved individuals who were paid to vote for a specific individual, and thus the photo ID law would be ineffective at preventing this type of fraud. With the paltry number of nationwide prosecutions (much less convictions) weighed against the estimated number of disenfranchised voters due to a photo ID requirement it would appear that a photo ID law is unnecessary.

(Report Comment)

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