Not to rush the general election on primary day, but come Nov. 8, Missouri voters will be asked to approve a voter ID measure. The constitutionality of voter ID was cast in severe doubt by three federal courts during the past two weeks, so Missourians should be prepared to vote no and save the state some money. Amendment 6, as it will be titled on the November ballot in Missouri, would require voters starting next year to present a government-issued photo ID before casting ballots. Such measures in other states have failed federal court challenges. Amendment 6 would force Missouri to spend a lot of money defending a law that doesn’t deserve to be defended. It is the fruit of a decade-long effort by Republican lawmakers to make it harder for many Missourians to exercise their rights to vote. In 2009, then Secretary of State Robin Carnahan estimated the number at 240,000 and identified most of them as minorities, the disabled and elderly.
Until this year, various voter ID bills passed by the Legislature came to naught. This year the Legislature crafted a bill with some wiggle room: Voters without photo ID would be able to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity, present some sort of non-photo ID or cast provisional ballots that would be counted if they later showed up with ID.
This amounts to an undue burden to address an almost nonexistent problem. The most comprehensive study of fraud by voter impersonation, done by law professor Justin Leavitt, found only 31 credible incidents among 1 billion ballots cast since 2000 in state, local and federal elections. The odds that voter impersonation could sway an election are statistically zero.