Editorial: Veto Voting Vetting

The majority Republican party in the Missouri General Assembly has caused passage of Senate Bill 3. which would require Missouri voters to present a non-expired government-issued photo ID in order to vote in elections. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon, who should veto the bill.

There is little question that this bill is a deliberate effort to disenfranchise voters, particularly those who often do not side with the majority party. When voter fraud in Missouri is virtually nonexistent, it makes one wonder why SB 3, which will cost an estimated $20 million to implement, is of such importance to the Senate majority.

In addition to the paucity of real fraud issues, there are many other reasons for Nixon to veto the bill, as the National Council of Jewish Women and other groups have pointed out:

• Photo IDs create a barrier to exercising one’s right to cast a ballot. Not everyone who is registered to vote has a non-expired Missouri driver’s license. There is a cost to government-issued ID, and in these hard economic times, with substantial unemployment, thousands of people would not have access to either of these options. Our nation’s sage jurists struck down the concept of poll taxes long ago.

• The Missouri Supreme Court has already wisely nixed requiring a photo ID as unconstitutional because it would cause “a heavy and substantial burden on Missourians’ free exercise of the right of suffrage.”

• It has been estimated that implementation of photo IDs for voting could disenfranchise as many as 230,000 registered voters in Missouri who do not have a current photo ID, especially senior citizens, people with disabilities, African-Americans, low income citizens and students. We wonder if the majority can, with a straight face, indicate that it would be pushing SB 3 so aggressively if some of these constituencies weren’t historically more aligned with the other side of the political aisle.

For all of the above reasons, Governor Jay Nixon, who has called the right to vote the “cornerstone of democracy,” should veto SB 3.