The purpose of this letter is to express my views on the enormous importance and unrelenting duty of every qualified citizen to exercise their precious right to vote. However, I will not have done my duty unless I also have prepared myself to make my choice(s) based on the best information I can find. (Honestly, I must tell the reader that I have not always lived up to my ideal.)
When I married my husband (many decades age) he informed me that I had to vote for Democrats. Although I had no idea why I must be a Democrat, my response was to go immediately and register as a Republican. I have never "unregistered" but the truth is that regardless of party I have always voted based on how I understand the ultimate consequences of my vote.
For the purpose of this letter I have chosen to talk about the bill Missouri lawmakers passed requiring all Missouri voters to have photo IDs. I understand their reasoning is to prevent voter fraud. This surprises me, since up to now I did not know that this was a serious problem in our state.
I have heard that the real reason was political. I am unaware of any studies or statistics on fraud that have led our lawmakers to feel the need for this bill. Of course, just because I am unaware does not mean that such studies and statistics do not exist. However, since Gov. Nixon vetoed the bill, and I feel sure he does not favor voter fraud, I am left to wonder what else I should know.
My concern is that every effort should be made to get voters to go to the polls. Requiring them to have a photo ID may prevent those who are unable to go get them or cannot afford to pay for them. Such a requirement could be unconstitutional unless the state provides the cameras to take free photos.
There was a time after the Civil War under Jim Crow laws when poll taxes and literary tests were declared unconstitutional because it kept freed slaves from being able to vote. Surely, we are long past such efforts to keep voters away from the polls. It seems we need to encourage our citizens to do their patriotic duty and not make laws that make voting more difficult.