Missourians torn over voter ID referendum on November ballot

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JEFFERSON CITY - Depending on what they do at the polls in November, Missourians may have to present a voter ID at every election after this Fall. 

Amendment 6 is a referendum, which will be on the statewide ballot on Election Day, and it would require all in-person voters in the state of Missouri to show a voter ID in order to vote. 

Patricia Jones, who traveled from Kansas City to protest the referendum in Jefferson City, said potentially taking away voting rights from people makes everything in an election pointless. 

"If voter ID is suppressed in any way, if our votes are suppressed, then the other things make no difference, because if you're not able to vote, we're not able to change the legislature," Jones said. 

Jones is passionate about the right to vote, because growing up in Mississippi, her great-grandmother would tell stories about how she wasn't able to vote. That made Jones cherish the ability to vote. 

"Too many people stood up for this [the right to vote] and that's why I get so impassioned about it when I talk to younger people and they're saying, 'we don't have a right to vote'. Yes, you do have a right to vote," Jones said. 

What Jones and many others are worried about is that older folks may not have the proper identification to acquire a voter ID card. Rep. Chuck Basye (R-Columbia) said people shouldn't be worried about that under Amendment 6, because the state would find a way to get you proper identification for free.

According to Basye, the chief reason for the referendum is to combat voter fraud. However, the problem of voter fraud doesn't appear to be prevalent in the state. Since 2005, taking polling data only from general elections 2006-2014, over 11 million votes were cast. Of those, just 17 people were convicted of voter fraud. That is less than 0.000002% of all votes. 

None of those 17 cases were voter impersonation, which is what the voter ID referendum aims to stop. So, none of the 17 cases would have been caught under the newly proposed system. But Basye said in small voting districts especially, even one case of voter fraud can change an election. 

"Back in 2010, in a Democratic primary, where an individual who was a sitting member of our body was elected by one vote and it turned out that his aunt and uncle voted fraudulently in that election. They were both convicted," Basye said. 

He's referring to Sen. John Joseph Rizzo (D-Kansas City), whose aunt and uncle admitted to registering a fake address in Kansas City in order to vote for their nephew. Their two votes helped decide that election. 

Basye also said getting a voter ID shouldn't be a big deal, because you have to have an ID to do many other things. 

Some of those things include: 

  • Applying for social security
  • Opening a bank account
  • Applying for unemployment benefits