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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Photo IDs assure free, fair elections

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The controversial new law in Missouri that requires voters to show a photo ID is still generating political squabbles. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, now wants Republican Gov. Matt Blunt to call a special session of the Legislature to provide money to canvass the state and provide free photo IDs to those without identification. Blunt says he won't call a special session and the costs of the program can be absorbed by those state offices required to make the identification effort.

Blunt has promised to sign the legislation that will be in effect for this November election. But the Democrats continue to seek political traction for an issue they believe will hurt their chances in November, since the odds are that most of those lacking identification would likely be Democrats.

This issue has generated headlines since first proposed. The Republicans believe it will help to assure voters that only eligible voters cast ballots. The Democrats believe that the poor, the elderly and the disabled who lack identification will simply not take the time to seek the state-approved photo ID or that the process will prove too difficult for that population.

So here's my question for Madame Secretary Carnahan. Her office estimates that 170,000 Missourians lack the proper photo ID soon required to vote. And the Revenue Department estimates that far less than half that population will even make the attempt to get a free state-approved ID. So what I would like to know is how many of these voters without photo IDs voted in the last election? I think that is a question that has gone unanswered in this entire debate.

Here's my point. Let's accept Carnahan's number and assume that 170,000 Missourians will soon need to receive a photo ID. But what if 80 or 90 percent of those voters haven't been active voters in the past? With or without a photo ID, they are most likely to skip voting. If that is the case - and only Carnahan can tell us - then why all the fuss about a tiny percent of eligible voters?

If you have to have a photo ID to enter a casino in Missouri or to cash a check in most places in Missouri or to take part in countless other activities, then why argue with a photo ID to vote? It doesn't make any sense for the Democrats to argue other than the political fallout. Instead, the Democrats should embrace the photo ID law and mount a massive effort to assure that their voters have proper identification.

I think our state is being divided over an issue that will have little or no impact come November. I believe that the overwhelming majority of those who lack a photo ID rarely take the time to vote regardless. The basis for our form of government is free and open elections. Asking someone to prove their identity is not too much to ask to provide that assurance.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen