Students and young voters at Saint Louis University are providing fresh opinions about two new bills passed by Missouri legislators last month that may require voters to present Missouri photo identification at the polling place.
“Obviously, no one sponsoring it is going to say it, but I think [the legislation] disenfranchises blocks of voters who traditionally vote for Democrats or liberals: the college students, the poor, the elderly,” said Patrick Grillot, a SLU student and co-founder of SLU Students for Voters’ Rights.
The bills, SB3 and SJR2, allow a referendum to be placed on the November 2012 election ballot. The referendum will ask voters whether or not to amend the Missouri Constitution to require state photo identification to vote in Missouri elections. Supporters say these bills aim to prevent voter fraud at the polling place; however, the Missouri secretary of state has not reported incidents of voter fraud at Missouri polling places in the past.
The proposal and passage of these bills has caused a stir within the state. Many question the true intentions of those pushing the bills.
SLU Students for Voters’ Rights is a group of SLU students opposed to the passage of these bills who attempted to fight against the legislation. The co-founders, Thomas Bloom and Grillot, wrote an open letter to the Missouri General Assembly and Gov. Jay Nixon expressing students’ disapproval of the bills, as they feel requiring photo ID will restrict the voting rights of students.
If voters choose to amend the constitution, the 1,509 students registered at the Busch Student Center polling place at SLU will be required to re-register to vote at their permanent address or obtain a Missouri state ID. This means that any students registered to vote in Missouri elections will no longer be able to present their student IDs as a form of identification.
With a drastic decrease in registered voters, there is a chance that the BSC will lose its polling place altogether, causing a greater hassle for students to find a close location to vote.