The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 28, 2014

Our View: Good program stripped

— When Secretary of State Jason Kander announced he was taking a first-of-its kind stance on making sure the public is notified about any and all election fraud, we applauded.

His Elections Integrity Unit was a direct response to the real or alleged voter fraud we hear about so often, though there is sometimes little visible evidence of its occurrence.

Kander in November 2013 began working with county election offices across the state and created a way the public can monitor investigations as well as file complaints. However, the secretary of state’s office has not received any reports of voter impersonation fraud since 2002. Still, there continues to be a push for more restrictive voter identification laws.

Kander’s Elections Integrity Unit would have provided the facts needed about the prevalence of voter fraud in Missouri. In fact, the House Budget Committee voted unanimously to fund the program.

So we were surprised that Republicans in the Missouri House of Representatives voted earlier this week to strip $79,900 for two full-time employees from the budget. Kander was critical of the move, saying in a statement that the move shows “they are more interested in scoring political points than doing anything to take on voter fraud and voter access issues.”

Are our legislators just trying to save money? Perhaps. But we think there’s a good chance the Elections Integrity Unit would have shown that Missouri does not have a serious voter fraud problem, therefore the need to mandate voter identification is actually a non-issue.

Let’s hope the Senate will restore the funding, if its members believe there is a problem with voter fraud. If not, then there is no reason for this state to complicate voting by demanding photo identification at the polls.

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