This was in Rep. Neth’s email newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I thought it worth publishing in case you don’t get his newsletter. I have been impressed with Mr. Neth’s communication since becoming a state representative. If you’re not on his email list, or even in his district, I still think it worth getting his newsletter. His stances on issues are always reasoned and he prides himself on the importance of hearing from his constituents.

In the 2005 legislative session, Missouri passed into law the requirement that individuals present photographic identification when they vote in person.  This was in response to the public perception that something odd had happened in St. Louis during the 2004 presidential election when it was noted that there were more individuals on the registered voting lists than there were people who actually lived there.  In addition, there was a recent irregularity in a primary race in Jackson County.

The Missouri Supreme Court said that this requirement was unconstitutional under state law, because voting is a fundamental right under our state constitution, and one or two named individuals in the case may have a hard time getting the photographic identification required to vote.  I agree that voting is a fundamental right. It should be protected to the fullest extent of the law.  One way we can ensure the protections of an individual’s right to vote is to make sure that everyone’s vote counts equally.  When individuals vote illegally, it reduces the value of the legally cast ballots.

I am an active member on the House Elections Committee which heard all the testimony on this subject.  A common theme by those opposed to photo ID was that there are no cases that have ever been tried in regards to this type of voter fraud, thus there is no need for this measure. While there may be no formal cases that have been tried, there have been enough irregularities that requiring a photo ID is not onerous.  Many things we do in our everyday life requires the use of a photo ID.  I consider voting to be more important than any of these other things; I do not see why it should be exempted from such a requirement.

At the next statewide election in 2012, you will have the opportunity to vote on whether our state requires citizens to show a valid photo ID when they go to the polls.  It will appear on the ballot as a constitutional amendment that would allow early voting, and would grant the legislature the power to require voters to present photographic identification at the polls.  We did our best to prevent discrimination against those who are unable to acquire a photo ID due to a misplaced birth certificate or disability; moreover, if an individual cannot afford a photo ID, the state will pay the cost.  I am proud to support this legislation that prevents illegal voters from watering down our system while protecting individuals who are having trouble acquiring an ID from being discriminated against.

I believe requiring identification protects those of us who vote legally from those that don’t. Voting is our greatest privilege as Americans, which is why we are leaving it up to you to decide on the protections necessary to preserve the validity of this time honored duty.

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