(KPLR) – In Tuesday's Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at Missouri’s voter id proposals.
My grandpa was born at the end of the 19th century. When I was a boy, he used to tell me stories about having to pay a Missouri poll tax before he could vote. He never had the cash, so he would work for the state on road crews at ten cents an hour until he earned enough to pay the poll tax. Then, he could vote. Missouri eventually got rid of the poll tax. And the 24th amendment outlawed it nationwide in 1963. The basic thought was that, in a democracy, the default position should be allowing more people to vote, not stopping them from voting.
Which brings us to the current voter ID law being debated in Jeff City; it would require every voter to have a current government-issued photo ID. Missouri’s Secretary of State estimates this would prevent around 220,000 current voters from voting. Supporters claim a voter ID would, quote “insure the integrity of the voting process”. No, it would ensure a lot of people, mostly poor or elderly or minorities don't get to vote.
The idea supposedly is to prevent voter impersonation fraud, voting while claiming to be another person. The last time a case of voter impersonation in Missouri was prosecuted, was 1936. Which means voter impersonation hasn't been a problem in Missouri for almost 80 years. If it's not a problem, why the proposal? Simple. It's a way to discourage poor people, black and brown people, and old people from voting.
It's no coincidence that those groups tend to vote democratic, and the voter ID proposals in Missouri come from some republicans. Whether it's well-intentioned or a cynical political power play, I don't know. I do know what grandpa would have thought, since he voted, but never had much use for politicians.
I'm Charles Jaco, and that's Jacology.