In a perverted, poetic justice kind of way, it's pitch perfect that in their alleged attempt to stop voter fraud, Missouri Republicans committed, well, fraud.
So concluded Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce, who last week ruled unconstitutional a joint resolution passed by the Missouri legislature last year that would have placed on the November 2012 ballot an amendment to weaken Missourians' fundamental right to vote.
Judge Joyce, in no uncertain terms, accused the Republicans who wrote the summary language for the inaccurately titled "Voter Protection Act" of trying to pull a fast one on voters.
Most likely, Judge Joyce merely slowed down the steamroller that is the Republican Party's national campaign to suppress the votes of young people, minorities, poor people, elderly people and disabled people. Before the ink was dry on her ruling, Missouri Republicans were seeking to pass a new constitutional amendment asking voters to play along with their voter disenfranchisement scheme.
"The Summary Statement drafted by the General Assembly states that the Proposed Constitutional Amendment will (1) adopt a 'Voter Protection Act,' (2) 'allow' the General Assembly to provide for advance voting; (3) 'allow' the General Assembly to set 'voter photo identification requirements,' and (4) 'allow' the General Assembly to set 'voter requirements based on whether one appears to vote in person or by absentee ballot.' The Summary Statement is insufficient and unfair as a matter of law because the Proposed Constitutional Amendment would do none of these things."
None of these things.
That's dramatically clear.
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.
In coming legislative days, the two Republicans striving to make a name for themselves by pushing this very bad legislation — Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, and Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard — will try to outdo the other in proclaiming their allegiance to a bill that seeks to diminish fundamental constitutional rights. That's because Mr. Stouffer and Mr. Schoeller are running against each other for their party's nomination for secretary of state, Missouri's top elections official.
Perish the thought.
Should one of them take up this role, we have a suggestion, drawn from Judge Joyce's clear and unadulterated ruling.
Why not just tell the truth?
Republican primary voters know what you're trying to accomplish, and they're on board. You want to limit the number of African-Americans in St. Louis and Kansas City and college students in Columbia and elsewhere who might vote for President Barack Obama and other Democrats. And if in the process a few folks in wheelchairs, elderly nuns and legal immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens are denied the right to vote, even better.
Tell the straight truth, and Judge Joyce will approve your ballot language.
It might even help you in your primary race.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.