J. KARL MILLER: Phantom roadblocks to acquiring a photo voter ID

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:14 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I had intended to let my last voter ID column in February 2012 be my final word on the subject; however, yet another opinion column published both in the Columbia Tribune and the Missourian has caused me to rethink that decision and reiterate some factual and common-sense data that seems to have escaped more than a few.

The column of interest is a guest commentary, compiled by Marilyn McLeod and Carol Schreiber, co-presidents of the League of Women Voters and Aline Kultjen, chair of its Civil Liberties Committee. Ttitled "Voter impersonation fraud is a nonissue in Missouri," the column goes to great lengths to explain why photo IDs are not only unnecessary for voting but also the requirement to possess one would disenfranchise up to 250,000 Missouri voters.

The authors take issue with two bills already passed by the House and expected to be taken up by the Senate requiring a government issued photo ID to vote. The opposition to this legislation never changes — it cites the "severe burden" placed on the elderly, the disabled, the minorities, the working poor and students that will serve to suppress their vote.

Additionally, they point out that no voter fraud has been documented in Missouri and since there are strict laws and stiff punishments (5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine) for being convicted that should be sufficient to end the discussion.

Admittedly, the threat of voter fraud in the likes of Boone County and the various hamlets and villages around the state is negligible. But, to deny categorically the existence of voter fraud or its proclivity to occur ignores history and blindly endorses the honesty, integrity and character of all who participate in the election process.

There are huge sums of money raised by candidates, political parties, political action committees, unions and special interest groups. Most of this cash is concentrated in metropolitan areas or cities, which are the most fertile areas for fraud. And, since there are also laws on the books against robbing banks, impersonating a police officer, carjacking and a host of other high crimes and misdemeanors that are broken daily, the notion that laws alone will deter fraud is unlikely.

Since it is virtually impossible to cash a check, board an aircraft, pick up mail, rent DVDs, purchase prescription medication, purchase over-the-counter medication with pseudoephedrine and often when using a credit card, it is difficult to believe the estimate of 250,000 Missouri residents getting along without a photo ID. And, inasmuch a photo ID is required for these transactions, why is there such opposition to proving who you are to participate in the election process?

The authors also cite the cost of acquiring supporting documents as a barrier to the poor, the disabled, minorities, ad infinitum in obtaining a government photo ID. Admitting the state would provide the ID without cost, they pointed out the Catch-22 difficulty in applying for a birth certificate — one must fill out a form requiring notarization and the notary usually requires photo identification.

Had they done an additional step in their research, they would have learned that to apply for Social Security, food stamps or other government benefits, one must present either a driver's license, a state-issued ID card or that "hard to obtain" birth certificate. Inasmuch as the disadvantaged do seem to receive these benefits, it appears the Catch-22 problem with the birth certificate is exaggerated.

Missouri House Bill 48 permits exceptions to the voter ID requirement for those with a nondisqualifying mental or physical handicap, those who could not afford supporting documents, a religious belief against being photographed and for those born on or before Jan. 1, 1948. They would be provided a provisional ballot and sign an affidavit that they met the above qualifications.

It is high time to cease and desist the silly charade that has pitted Republicans and Democrats against one another on an issue that is purely political in nature. The Democrats' opposition is that it is merely a GOP ploy to suppress voter turnout, equating the photo ID requirement to poll taxes and Jim Crow Laws. The Democrats have played the race card in both national and state venues to include Missouri.

One can disagree with the requirement and possible cost of requiring photo IDs to vote, but to resort to demagoguery in accusing Republicans of resorting to voter suppression of minorities, the elderly, the disabled and others is simply outrageous. This assumes the Democratic Party holds a monopoly on voters who are more apt to be disenfranchised, a claim which is as suspicious as it is condescending.

Does it not appear a bit strange that minority, disabled, elderly and poor Republicans don't appear to believe that requiring a photo ID to vote will cause them to be disenfranchised? Are we to believe that Democrats who are similarly disadvantaged somehow lack the initiative and/or party loyalty to ensure their eligibility to vote?

The presumed difficulty in acquiring photo IDs for voters is an exaggeration which is also patronizing and even insulting to minorities, the elderly and other disadvantaged. Additionally, each political party's "get out the vote" campaign would seem to be a perfect venue for identifying those experiencing difficulty and resolving the issue.

That the argument against the photo ID for voting is headed the way of the Dodo, an extinct and flightless bird, has been demonstrated by none other than the Supreme Court of the United States. In a 6-3 ruling in April 2008, the court decided that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court's most recent rulings in Indiana and Georgia, upholding the right of the states to require photo IDs to vote, hopefully will sound a death knell on this shameful intrusion of party politics at the polls.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Mark Foecking May 15, 2013 | 7:47 a.m.

Is in-person voter fraud a significant issue? It's never been shown to be. Most of the irregularities in voting come from outdated or inaccurate voter registration, not active fraud.

Will requiring a photo ID be a burden on low income people? Unlikely - most people in any income range could not get along without one. Will requiring a photo ID solve a largely non-existent problem? No.

The whole issue is a gigantic waste of the legislature's time. Just leave it the way it is. It won't solve the problem it purports to solve. A national database of voters, and a requirement that registration be renewed every five years or so, will go far further toward ensuring honest elections.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 15, 2013 | 8:06 a.m.

The fact that the United States Supreme Court has upheld state requirements for voter ID suggests that the Justices aren't brain dead.

That's comforting: would we want the members of our highest court to be brain dead? We already appear to have a large and growing number of brain dead Americans, some of them even have what passes these days for a university education.

As it happens, Karl, I am reading "Out of Order," by former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Stories from the history of the Supreme Court. Definitely worth the read, but not recommended for some. Why? Because they might actually LEARN SOMETHING, and we damned sure can't have THAT!

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance May 15, 2013 | 10:08 a.m.

What part of "shall not be abridged" in the 24th amendment don't you understand?

(Report Comment)
Tony Black May 15, 2013 | 10:30 a.m.

Solve a non-existant problem, pat themselves on the back, and crow about it. Face it. You lost, and your jerrymandering will come back to haunt you. In 12 years, after Hillary, you may be able to vote in a Republican, who will remove all regulations, taxes, and poor people, and the world will be a magical place for you again.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 15, 2013 | 12:26 p.m.

I view voter ID as just one small part in making our elections fraud-free.

Just one small part of a whole that eventually needs to be addressed.

PS: First, for reasons outlined by the Colonel, I believe very, very few people do not possess a photo ID. Second, I believe the notion that 250,000 people will be disenfranchised is ludicrous and, quite frankly, a deliberate lie meant to cause fear. Third, I believe liberal fear of voter ID is because they fear what comes next...other, more rigorous, forms of stopping voter fraud. And, fourth, I believe liberal voting fraud is a frequent thing, especially in large cities, and liberals don't want this camel nose under the tent.

In the US today, it is my opinion that the only way you can get disenfranchised is to do it to yourself.

Or by someone elses' fraud.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 15, 2013 | 1:44 p.m.

Michael Williams wrote:

"And, fourth, I believe liberal voting fraud is a frequent thing, especially in large cities"

Why? I don't think voting fraud is a particular issue on either side. If it exists at all, it's at the level of election officials, not regular voters voting multiple times. That's already illegal. Adding to voting requirements for individuals doesn't attack the real problems.

I'm the kind of guy that will accept evidence contrary to what I believe and change my mind. But from what I've read in the news, in-person voter fraud is close to non-existent.


(Report Comment)
Tim Dance May 15, 2013 | 6:36 p.m.

Keep your hands off my vote!!! Funny how we can't take steps to try to prevent someone from killing 20 children, but will go to great measures in preventing 20 counts of "voter fraud" nationwide over the last decade or so. Unlike some of you, voting is the way civilized people take care of a tyrannical government. Unfortunately with all the racist statements coming from various Republicans, the only way they can win is to either gerrymander or disenfranchise covers. Pa-the-tic.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller May 15, 2013 | 7:47 p.m.

Mr Dance,

I have issues with two of your comments.

1. The 24th Amendment states that no on shall be denied the right to vote for failure to pay a poll tax. The proposed requirement for photo ID to vote is by no stretch of the imagination a poll tax. I believe the Supreme Court made that clear with the ruling that a state required Photo ID for voting does NOT violate anyone's Constitutional rights.

2. I have seen no evidence of Republicans making racial statements--if you have a source for that, I would hope you might enlighten me and the readers the location of that source.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 15, 2013 | 10:09 p.m.

Now that's funny.

The Colonel has Rosman hunkered down doing research trying to prove Israeli women were NOT a distraction in war and has Dance hunkered down trying to find racist statements by Republicans.

JackH....locked out. If you wrote on the other article, I can't read it. Just wanted you to know why I didn't respond. Maybe next time. ;^}

MarkF: Like I said.....even if it's a minor problem, voter ID is hopefully the first in a long line of legislation that corrects voting problems. Voting is extremely important and I think you should identify yourself properly (name and photograph) and prove your right to vote in that precinct (address, and that you are registered). I also think that if someone made a mistake on a ballot and did not catch it before depositing the ballot.....tough luck. There should be no recourse at that point. Follow the damned directions.

In today's world, folks that are disenfranchised either do it to themselves....or some fraud does it to them.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks May 16, 2013 | 7:06 a.m.

I suspect that the progressive/liberals would do anything they can to stop any form of voter ID's because they have a history of half a decade of tricking people into believing they are for the poor or disenfranchised when in fact they are the party that have kept them there all this time with their policies. They know that all they have to do it talk strong against successful people and the non successful with vote for them. They even go as far and sending people out into the streets to register votes as they know those same individuals do not have the motivation to go downtown and do it themselves. Requiring an ID would really hurt them. I also think the 250,000 is a large number as I don't think we have that many Amish in this area. They are the only ones I know that do not get govt checks or pay deposits or buy medicine or drive.
I also wonder if they required a voter ID would that mean the person could still register to vote out on the street and show ID at the ballot table or would that mean that the groups registering these unmotivated individuals on the street would then be forced to carry a copy machine around to make a copy of each registers ID before they could sign the paperwork?

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates May 16, 2013 | 9:16 p.m.

I am a disabled older person, if 73 counts. My disabilities are combat related. Not significantly disabling...but, enhanced with age. I could probably walk to, lets say, a bowling alley, if not too far, but unlikely be able to bowl. Having an ID card is no big issue, nor has ever been. My bank needs one. I have a card I present when I vote locally, or to drive. Just not a big issue. I'm just saying older disabled persons really shouldn't have a problem getting a card. A great many of my older friends have had one for decades. I suppose if I were a foreigner here not normally eligible to vote, but wanted to, it could be a problem. But, I could go to MIZZOU and find a good ID from those that sell them... as there are ways to get a remarkably correct fake driver's license to drink if I were under 21. I know that from first hand experience because I went through the legal process when one of my son's got caught with one! Both my lawyer and I were amazed at how correct it was....but, didn't fool a Columbia Police Officer. The issue is voter fraud; the question is the potential significance.

(Report Comment)

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