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Hands off our vote!

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Published St. Louis American, November 3, 2017

Opponents of Amendment 6 have been working overtime to educate citizens about its hidden consequences. The ballot measure will be on the November 8 ballot. At first glance, the measure seems to be okay, maybe even efficient, maybe even a deterrent for voter fraud. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Missouri Republican Party knows this better than most as it has attempted to carry out the GOP’s national strategy to restrict the rights of voters, particularly of black and brown voters.

If the measure passes next Tuesday, only government-issued photo identification will be acceptable to vote. No more student ID, utility bills, job ID or the like that voters can presently use at their polling places. Republicans would be thrilled to see this state swing to red for generations to come.

First, some history.

The GOP has tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce restrictive voter legislation over the last decade. Similar legislation was vetoed by Governor Nixon and a couple of times it was struck down by the courts, once by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Missouri is one of few states that included the protection of voting rights to all citizens in its state constitution. That’s why the GOP has taken its fight to a new level – changing the state constitution.

Second, some logic.

I’ve grown so tired of the mythology of voter fraud that I might just announce this is my last time writing about it. There have been countless studies of voter fraud, and none have yielded substantial evidence of a voter showing up at the poll pretending to be someone else. One such study looked at more than a billion ballots cast between 2000-2014 from general, primary, local and special elections. Out of a billion-plus ballots, only 31 incidents were found, and I’d be willing to bet that half of those can be rationally explained.

Republicans have been on a mission to restrict voting rights any way they can. They got a big boost when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the historic Voter Rights Act. Since then, 17 states have put new voting restrictions in effect for the first time. Fifteen states have new, harsher voter ID laws in place. If voters don’t get all the information about Amendment 6, Missouri could be in this undemocratic club.

About 220,000 voters across the state will be negatively impacted by Amendment 6. These are mainly African Americans, senior citizens, students, the working poor and people with disabilities – not exactly the constituents of the Republican Party. Because the courts have already ruled restrictive ID’s are a hardship, the proposed legislation allows for $17 million to be spent so that affected voters can get right with the law such as paying for their birth certificates. This tab will put it in the hands of Missourians to pay.

Republicans see very clearly that voters are looking more brown and less white. These voting restrictions are about race and political power. It is why we must be informed voters on November 8 and vote NO on Constitutional Amendment 6.

 

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