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News from the Show-Me-Your-Papers State

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May 12, 2008

Just when you think there couldn’t be anything worse-or more ridiculous-than an unnecessary voter ID requirement to stave off the nonexistent problem of in-person voter fraud at polling places, the Missouri House of Representatives is trying to do the Supreme Court and the state of Indiana one better: they’re trying to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution that would require proof of citizenship to vote. That’s right, not just a state ID: an original birth certificate, naturalization papers, or passport will be required for anyone who registers to vote. If this measure passes the state senate this week, Missourians will vote on the amendment in the primary for the governor’s race in August, and if it passes, the requirement will take effect before this year’s presidential election.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan opposes the amendment, citing that it could prevent approximately 240,000 eligible Missourians from casting a vote because they can’t get prove their citizenship. She adds that there have been no cases of voter impersonation fraud in the state.

Arizona passed a similar measure back in 2004; it’s been tied up in the courts since it passed, and has never taken effect. The case, Intertribal Council of Ariz. Inc. v. Brewer, is awaiting trial in district court; the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and the ACLU of Arizona are part of the coalition that’s suing the state.

Last week during its Democratic primary, Indiana had the dubious distinction of refusing the vote to a group of nuns in their 80s and 90s because they didn’t have government-issued IDs. The nuns have said they will try to get the proper IDs before the November election, but unfortunately, none of them drive, so that’s going to be a challenge in itself.

Cognizant of this event, the Joplin Globe reports:

…Diana Oleskevich, justice coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, nonetheless expressed concerns. She said a ‘significant number of bright, intelligent women’ in that St. Louis-based religious community ‘long ago gave up driving.’They’re in their 80s and 90s now and are hard pressed to get the documents they need to vote,’ she said.

Suppressing the nun vote: Just icing on the cake of unconstitutional voting rights restriction.