The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

April 4, 2013

Our View: A new low

Only a handful of votes separated winners from losers in many of the races in Tuesday’s election.

The problem? Only a handful of voters showed up at some polling places.

Jasper County saw voter turnout of just slightly more than 8 percent, while Newton County dipped to below 8 percent. Our Kansas neighbors saw a bigger turnout, largely because they had some contested races.

Apathy reared its head in more ways than one. Willing candidates were a rarity for local school boards and city councils. Joplin didn’t even need to open polls because there were no races. Let’s face it, the majority of voters now show up once every four years for a presidential election, but stay home for many of the local races.

Yet here in Missouri we are on the brink of making voting even more difficult for some registered voters. Legislation to limit the types of ID used to vote has passed in the House and is before the Senate.

Under the terms of the legislation, voters would have to show either a valid Missouri driver’s license or state-issued identification card, a passport, a military ID card or an unexpired state or federal photo ID card. The legislation would end the use of other forms of ID, including student ID cards, utility statements and expired Missouri driver’s licenses. A county-issued voter registration card wouldn’t even be good enough. If the bill is passed, Missouri would rank with Indiana for the strictest voter ID law in the country.

So where’s the fire?

According to Secretary of State Jason Kander, there is none.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, says the bill is needed to prevent fraud. But Kander, in a report released a week ago, said no cases of voter impersonation fraud have been reported since the state’s current voter identification requirements were put into place in 2002.

In addition to costing taxpayer money to implement — a provision calls for the state to fund ID cards for those seeking them in order to vote — the bill would require those seeking a photo ID to pay for supporting documentation, like a birth certificate, to obtain it.

Why are Missouri legislators so eager to invent problems that aren’t there?

We would much rather hear about programs to help county clerks update outdated voter rolls.

Let’s not disenfranchise another segment of our voters. They apparently are becoming an endangered species.

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