—that when the legislature returns to the Capitol this week to consider extending Governor Nixon’s world record as the most veto-overridden governor in Missouri history that those who want to make it harder for Missourians to vote will trot out the absentee voting mess in St. Louis as an example of the voter fraud that the bill will stop?
It will be a bogus argument for a bogus bill.
If you haven’t been pay attention to this issue (and who can think of anything else when we have Hillary and Donnie going about the land?) here’s a quick tutorial.
It seems that in St. Louis, some people played games with the absentee ballots in the August primary and now a judge has ordered a do-over election to decide who will be the Democratic nominee in the 78th House district, and thus the winner of that seat because there’s no Republican opposition. Incumbent Penny Hubbard had more votes than challenger Bruce Franks, Jr. But a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation found two people who said people claiming to be Hubbard campaign workers filled out ballots for them. There were at least sixty times when a single voter submitted two applications for an absentee ballot although they said they had not applied twice. The newspaper says more than a dozen people whose absentee applications claimed they were incapacitated sold reporters they never made such a claim and don’t know who did. And two former election board employees said Hubbard’s husband “routinely delivered stacks of election ballots” to the board.
People who went to the polls on August 2 elected Franks 1997-1787. But when the absentee votes were counted, Hubbard had 416 and he had 114, enough for her to defeat Franks by ninety votes in the overall total.
House Bill 1631, the voter photo ID bill, would require people to have a photo-identification card when they go to the polling place to cast a ballot. If they don’t they have to get in another line and somebody will take their picture. Under present law, all any of us have to do is show the poll clerks the card issued by our county clerk, or in the case of the big cities by the election board, and we can cast our ballot.
This law would not go into effect unless voters in November decide they want to make it harder to cast their own ballots in future elections. Missouri voters have twice in our experience given away their own right to vote so it would not be surprising if they decided in November to weaken their right again.
Part of the fallout from all of this St. Louis stuff has become part of the Blunt-Kander race for the U. S. Senate. Blunt is a former Secretary of State and Kander is the incumbent Secretary of State. Partisans on both sides are sniping at the other about this issue when they should be arguing about the national issues that Senators deal with or are not dealing with. But that’s part of the political circus. If you focus enough attention on the sideshow, you might be able to distract public attention away from the donkey and elephant show that has left the center ring a shambles.
But the St. Louis mess is just too easy for the ID advocates to jump on as they try to justify in the veto session overriding Nixon’s veto of the photo ID bill—even though the St. Louis mess has nothing whatsoever to do with casting ballots at the polls.
Rounding up absentee voters, especially in nursing homes and in neighborhoods where many elderly people live, is a time-honored part of elections everywhere. And some of the practices that the newspaper has highlighted might be worth exploring by the legislative elections committees. Perhaps requiring election authority-issued photo IDs of those who solicit absentee ballots is worth considering as a start.
But trying to tie the voter photo-ID bill to the 78th House district problems would be nothing more than, well, bogus.
But that’s not the first time that word has been applied to voter photo-ID legislation in Missouri.