Creative Destruction

October 17, 2006

Missouri Supreme Court Invalidates Photo ID Requirement For Voting

Filed under: Current Events,Politics and Elections — Ampersand @ 6:32 am

Racists and Republicans (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are disappointed.

I’m not convinced that there’s a significant voter fraud problem to be solved by requiring IDs. (And if there were, it could be solved with less extreme measures, such as provisional ballots). But if we must have voter ID, it should be combined with free, proactive government programs to get IDs into the hands of every single eligible voter in time for election day. But Republicans have shown zero interest in any anti-fraud program that doesn’t promise to disenfranchise eligible voters.

This is an issue that should matter to everyone who favors democracy; but anti-voter laws like Missouri’s disproportionately effect the elderly, the disabled, and poor people (who are disproportionately people of color). I also wonder if it disproportionately effects transsexuals, not only because transsexuals are more likely to be poor, but in addition because being transsexual could create additional issues in acquiring ID. (But it could be that I’m completely off-base about that.)

From the Court’s opinion:

[The Voter ID law] requires each of the individual plaintiffs in this case to present a Missouri driver’s license, a Missouri non-driver’s license, or a United States passport on election day in order to vote. The record reveals that between 3 and 4 percent of Missouri citizens (estimates vary from 169,215 to 240,000 individuals) lack the requisite photo ID. Appellants concede that many of these citizens, including all of the individual plaintiffs in this case, are eligible to vote and, in many cases, are already registered to vote. […]

It is to these citizens that the Court directs its attention, as it determines whether this statute places into jeopardy their ability to exercise their fundamental right to vote under article I, section 25 of the Missouri Constitution. To do so, the Court must examine the required processes for them to obtain a photo ID to determine the extent of the burden it imposes on their right to vote.

1. SB 1014’s Photo-ID Requirement requires payment of money to exercise the right to vote.
Those citizens who do not possess the requisite photo ID, with few exceptions, must expend money to gather the necessary documentation to obtain it in order to exercise their right to vote. […] Many voters who presently lack one of the required photo IDs would have to, at the very least, expend money to obtain a birth certificate. In Missouri, obtaining a birth certificate requires at least a $15 payment, which, Appellants conceded at oral argument, is not a de minimis cost. If the citizen requires documentation beyond a birth certificate, the costs are greater.

Although this Court has not previously had occasion to evaluate the validity of putting a direct or indirect price or fee on the franchise under the Missouri Constitution, the United States Supreme Court held, in the context of addressing a $1.50 poll tax: “Wealth or fee-paying has . . . no relation to voting qualifications; the right to vote is too precious, too fundamental to be so burdened.” Harper, 383 U.S. at 670. While requiring payment to obtain a birth certificate is not a poll tax, as was the $1.50 in Harper, it is a fee that qualified, eligible, registered voters who lack an approved photo ID are required to pay in order to exercise their right to free suffrage under the Missouri Constitution. Harper makes clear that all fees that impose financial burdens on eligible citizens’ right to vote, not merely poll taxes, are impermissible under federal law. There can be no lesser requirement under Missouri law.[…]

The trial court also found that the citizens who currently lack the requisite photo ID are generally “the least equipped to bear the costs.” For Missourians who live beneath the poverty line, the $15 they must pay in order to obtain their birth certificates and vote is $15 that they must subtract from their meager ability to feed, shelter, and clothe their families. The exercise of fundamental rights cannot be conditioned upon financial expense. […]

2. SB 1014’s Photo-ID Requirement requires time and ability to navigate bureaucracies in order to vote.
Persons who wish to vote who do not already have the requisite photo IDs must arrange to obtain them by presenting a birth certificate or passport and, if necessary, proof of name changes. To do so requires both funds and advance planning to allow for the six to eight weeks that the record shows it takes to obtain a Missouri birth certificate (which is more time than exists between the date of this decision and the next general election). Once the birth certificate is in hand, the voter must use it to obtain one of the requisite photo IDs. “This is plainly a cumbersome procedure.” […]

Evaluating a similar procedure mandated by the Georgia photo ID law (which was found to violate the federal constitution), a Georgia federal district court concluded that “many voters who are elderly, disabled, or have certain physical or mental problems simply cannot navigate that process or any long waits successfully.”

Curtsy: BlackProf.com.

[Edited after the initial posting to add paragraph three.]

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13 Comments »

  1. Racists and Republicans (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are disappointed.

    I recall that you were never particularly thrilled when I generalized about leftists.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 17, 2006 @ 6:36 am | Reply

  2. That’s not a generalization. On the contrary, I specifically pointed out that not all Republicans are racists.

    I believe – and studies of voter attitudes support this – that racism (and in particular, what social scientists call “racial resentment”) is a significant component of what motivates many voters to vote Republican. That is, how much a white voter has racially resentful attitudes in surveys is an extremely significant predictor of whether they’ll identify as a Republican, even after accounting for many other factors.

    Furthermore, I think that many Republican election tactics have the effect of making it less likely that blacks will successfully vote, which is why it was relevant to this post.

    These are not generalizations. These are well-grounded factual statements & critiques, and ones I’m prepared to defend.

    Comment by Ampersand — October 17, 2006 @ 6:47 am | Reply

  3. Murderers of Jews and leftists (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are doubtless thrilled with the ruling.

    Comment by Robert — October 17, 2006 @ 6:54 am | Reply

  4. That is, how much a white voter has racially resentful attitudes in surveys is an extremely significant predictor of whether they’ll identify as a Republican, even after accounting for many other factors.

    And how about racially resentful attitudes that black voters hold, do they have connection on the likelihood that they will vote Democrat?

    Comment by Tuomas — October 17, 2006 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  5. Or could it be that many social “scientists” don’t even acknowledge the existence of resentful attitudes held by non-whites, or intellectualize them away as being justified responses to decades of oppression, thus the whole damn thing has never really been researched?

    Couldn’t be, because surely they couldn’t let their ideology get in the way of analyzing facts.

    LOL!

    Comment by Tuomas — October 17, 2006 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  6. Murderers of Jews and leftists (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are doubtless thrilled with the ruling.

    The number of Democratic Jew-murderers is tiny, insignificant as a proportion of all Democrats.

    However, if Democratic Jew-murderers were as common among Democrats as racists are among Republicans, then I’d say that would be a legitimate criticism to make of the Democratic party. Indeed, I’d say it would entirely invalidate the Democratic party as a worthwhile institution.

    (I realize that you hedged your bets by saying “leftists,” by which you mean that Palestinian terrorists are leftists, I imagine. However, I don’t think that Palestinian politics tracks on to US politics in such a neat fashion, making the comparison dubious. For instance, when it comes to questions like feminism, or gay rights, Palestinian terrorists and Republicans have a lot more in common than Palestinian terrorists and Democrats. Palestinian terrorists are right-wing on some issues, left-wing on others, by US standards.)

    Comment by Ampersand — October 17, 2006 @ 7:09 am | Reply

  7. And how about racially resentful attitudes that black voters hold, do they have connection on the likelihood that they will vote Democrat?

    I doubt it, but I don’t know if any research has established this one way or the other.

    I find that you bring this up odd, however. Suppose that there were racially resentful attitudes among blacks, which influenced black voting patterns. Would that in any way make it okay that racially resentful attitudes influence white voting patterns?

    Comment by Ampersand — October 17, 2006 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  8. No, but it could be part of the explanation.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 17, 2006 @ 7:25 am | Reply

  9. Amp, I originally read your little poke as saying that most racists are Republican, and therein lies the overlap. I agree that, to the extent that they identify with one of the American political parties, most racists are Republican (though I disagree that most Republicans are racist, except insofar as we all carry within us a degree of prejudice), so I shrugged and continued reading. In your comments, however, you do seem to be implying that in fact a measurable portion of the Republican community (though, admittedly, “not all”) is in fact racist. Could you clarify? Sure, not *all* Republicans are racist, but are most? Or is it just some? Or is it just a few, but enough that it’s worth using that to take a poke at Republicans?

    Anyway, we’re getting bogged down in one little swipe, and no one’s talking about the main point of the post. As a Republican who doesn’t think of himself as racist (but no doubt is simply in denial), I applaud the ruling. I’ve always been against anything that makes it harder for people to vote, and I still don’t like the govt. oversight that comes with a govt. issued ID card. I also agree that the “problem” of voter fraud is more theoretical than actual. This is a good country, and we’re at our best when we’re most democratic. These barriers to voting aren’t democratic, and they aren’t good for the country.

    Comment by Mondai Oyaji — October 17, 2006 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  10. The number of Democratic Jew-murderers is tiny, insignificant as a proportion of all Democrats.

    Undoubtedly. I wasn’t attempting to parallelize Democrats and Republicans, I was attempting to point out the moral obtuseness of the formulation.

    (And by leftists I was mostly thinking of the Soviets.)

    You would have understood all this if you weren’t a person with a last name beginning with A, B, C, or D. People with last names beginning with A-D, and the profoundly mentally retarded (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap), often have trouble comprehending blog comments. 😛

    Comment by Robert — October 17, 2006 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  11. Amp says:

    I believe – and studies of voter attitudes support this – that racism (and in particular, what social scientists call “racial resentment”) is a significant component of what motivates many voters to vote Republican. That is, how much a white voter has racially resentful attitudes in surveys is an extremely significant predictor of whether they’ll identify as a Republican, even after accounting for many other factors.

    I would rather think that the fact that the Democrats appear to actively hate whites is a significant component of why many voters tend to vote Republican.

    But Republicans have shown zero interest in any anti-fraud program that doesn’t promise to disenfranchise eligible voters.

    And Democrats have shown zero interest on any anti-fraud program that could prevent non-citizens (including those who are here illegally) from voting.

    As for the photo ID issue, I support having photo ID as a requirement, but I also support the idea that everyopne should be entitled to free photo ID.

    Comment by Glaivester — October 19, 2006 @ 3:22 am | Reply

  12. I find that you bring this up odd, however. Suppose that there were racially resentful attitudes among blacks, which influenced black voting patterns. Would that in any way make it okay that racially resentful attitudes influence white voting patterns?

    If there were racially resentful attitudes among blacks, which influence black voting patterns, and we, as left-wingers agreed that this could indeed be OK in some circumstances, then wouldn’t that undermine the notion that racially resentful attitudes among whites which influence white voting patterns must necessarily be not OK.

    I think the voting side of it is a side issue. The question is whether racial resentment (whatever that means) on the part of whites, and on the part of blacks is OK (whatever that means).

    The complaints of people of colour about “white privilege” are unquestionably an expression of racial resentment. Are such expressions OK?

    Comment by Daran — October 19, 2006 @ 7:12 am | Reply

  13. As for the photo ID issue, I support having photo ID as a requirement, but I also support the idea that everyopne should be entitled to free photo ID.

    Sounds reasonable.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 19, 2006 @ 11:47 am | Reply


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