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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is Photo ID Amendment Bigoted Enough to Drive Missouri Republicans to the Polls?

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

click to enlarge It's me, McLovin. Can I vote now, please?
  • It's me, McLovin. Can I vote now, please?
Frankly, we here at Daily RFT are a little disappointed. We'd expected something juicier.

Usually when Missouri's Republican-controlled Legislature rolls out a proposed constitutional amendment, it's something outrageously bigoted. Something that they hope will drive their base to the polls to vote on the amendment du juor and -- while they're there -- also vote for the G.O.P. candidates up for election.

It's what the Republicans did in 2004 with the Defense of Marriage Amendment that tweaked Missouri's Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. And it's what they did again in 2008 with a constitutional amendment that made English the official language of Missouri. (In case you had your doubts.)

Now that they've marginalized homosexuals and foreigners, who will the Republicans target in time for the 2012 presidential election? Let's see. They need somebody who doesn't vote for them anyway, some group that Republicans across Missouri can decry as a class unworthy of special treatment.

Blacks? Eh. Too easy.

Muslims? Hmm, not bad. Let's keep that in our pocket.

Wait, we know: How about the poor and elderly? Bingo!

Yesterday the Missouri Senate passed a bill already approved by the House, asking voters to consider a constitutional amendment requiring Missouri voters to present a valid photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The amendment will be on the November 2012 ballot, which (surprise!) happens to be the next presidential election.

Republicans passed similar legislation in 2006, which was overturned when the Missouri Supreme Court found it placed a "heavy and substantial burden on Missourians' free exercise of the right of suffrage." This time around, Republicans say the law won't be overturned because they're offering to have the state pay for the person's ID.

Critics contend that the real goal of the measure is to keep the poor -- particularly the elderly poor -- from the polls, as they tend not to have photo IDs. Coincidentally, those people generally don't vote Republican, either. (Though their votes for the opposition aren't quite as dependable as those cast by gays and immigrants.)

Yesterday, a spokesman for Missourians for Fair Elections (a coalition of groups like the NAACP, AARP and League of Women Voters) announced that they planned a campaign to educate voters to reject the constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, the bill's sponsor Sen. Bill Stouffer (R - Napton) said the measure is simply about "making it easier to vote and harder to cheat." Nothing more.

Hmm, you buying that?

Keep up on all the latest St. Louis news and gossip by following @chadgarrison on Twitter and Daily RFT on Facebook.

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