DAVID ROSMAN: Voter registration, not identification, causes problem

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 3:56 p.m. CDT; updated 8:23 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The purpose of being an elected official is to govern. The Constitution of the United States mandates in the preamble, "We the People …"

The Missouri Constitution does the same.

David Hume and John Locke tell us that governing includes caring for and protecting the people when they cannot care for or protect themselves — to handle and resolve those problems so large that an individual, an organization or a corporation cannot.

But first, there must be a problem. A real problem, not a mythical problem created only to rise the emotional ire or control of governed. These myths are pushed almost equally by Republicans and Democrats alike, nationally, statewide and locally.

There has been an uptick of comments on the Internet concerning voter identification, supporting the need for voter identification laws or claiming that voter identification fraud does not exist.

I have found that the estimates of voter fraud are being greatly overblown by the Republicans and that such laws would disenfranchise the poor and minorities. Voter photo identification laws solve no existing problem.

The only recent conviction was in Indiana and involved the Secretary of State, an elected Republican who is also in charge of elections statewide.

In February, CBS News reported, "Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White — the man charged with upholding election integrity in Indiana — was convicted of six felonies on Saturday, including three counts of voter fraud, two counts of perjury and one count of theft."

The voter identification fraud mythology can now be added to the epidemic of "foot-in-mouth" disease infecting the ranks of the Republican Party — enough so to question the integrity of the GOP.

Here in Missouri, HB 1104, which sets photo identification requirements for voters, has advanced further than other proposed legislation. As of Friday, the bill was referred to the state Senate’s Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee. But is there a problem?

The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County Civil Liberties Committee co-chairs Aline Kultgen and Linda Kaiser recently wrote, "Between 2002 and 2007, after a massive investigation into voting irregularities (in Missouri), the Justice Department failed to prosecute a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter."

As to the New Black Panther case in Kansas City, there was an "absence of any actual intimidated voters" and no convictions. The famous (or infamous) ACORN case concerned registration fraud, not voter identification fraud.

Criticism of proposed voter identification laws is not an exclusive of the political left, the Justice Department or the League of Women Voters. There are prominent Republicans who also have seen the light.

Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that for Republicans, it is "an article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections."

The Chronicle continued, reporting Masset believes "that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a drop-off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote."

The problem is not with voter identification fraud but with the voter registration system. Voter ID supporters seemed to have learned that numbers don’t lie, but  The Pew Center on the States reported that more than 24 million voter registrations are invalid in the U.S.

The reason?

"The inability of this paper-based process to keep up with voters as they move or die can lead to problems with the rolls. ..."

This is the apparent case in Missouri. Like the tea party and Occupy movements, when one voice turns into hundreds and then thousands, they will be listened to under the great domes of government.

The GOP caucuses are March 17. March 29 is the Democrats’ statewide convention. You will decide, among other things, the platform for your political party as well as selecting preferred candidates for offices from president to state legislators.

Tell the platform committees to add that our legislators must legislate for real problems — not those found among the party’s mythologies — and to overhaul the state’s voter registration system.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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