It’s that time of year again. With two weeks left in the legislative session, the Republican-controlled legislature is once again attempting a last-ditch effort to push through an extreme voter photo ID measure. A measure, that if passed, would disenfranchise 220,000 Missouri voters – disproportionally impacting minorities, the elderly and the poor.
The disenfranchisement of one eligible voter would be one too many, let alone 220,000. That’s roughly five percent of Missouri’s registered voter population. If five percent seems like a low number, consider March’s presidential primary when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their respective primaries in Missouri by just 0.2 percent.
Supporters of the legislation claim our elections are at risk and that without new voter identification laws, Missouri is vulnerable to voter impersonation fraud – even though you already have to show identification in order to vote. This is a breathtakingly bold and egregious assessment. Because the fact is, there has never been a reported case of voter impersonation fraud in Missouri.
Despite that, the General Assembly has become increasingly fixated with passing an extreme voter photo identification proposal. This photo ID law would target minorities, senior citizens who no longer drive, women who have changed their last name through marriage or divorce, students with current school-issued photo IDs, and military families – all of whom would become vulnerable to losing their constitutional right as Americans to vote.
I am committed to fighting extreme voter photo ID at the state and federal level and as your next U.S. senator. My opponent, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, has voted to require a specific form of photo ID to vote in federal elections, and he has voted against restoring the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation that protected the voting rights of African Americans until the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it in 2013.
As Missouri secretary of state, I have worked to make sure that only eligible voters vote, and that every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote. In 2013, my office unveiled a new tool which allowed Missourians to complete their voter registration forms online. We continued our work in 2014 when I launched the Military and Overseas Voting Access Portal, a first-of-its-kind online portal that allows eligible military and overseas Missouri voters to register to vote and request and receive their ballots online.
As your senator, I will continue to fight against these deceptive laws meant to keep Missourians from the ballot box. It’s time our lawmakers in Jefferson City put their resources toward solving actual problems in Missouri instead of fear mongering about something that hasn't happened.
Jason Kander is Missouri secretary of state, the state’s highest election official, and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.