Mo. voter ID law makes sense

Missouri voter identification proponents are hard at work to get a photo requirement on the ballot. As part of his statewide Voter Identification Tour, Jay Ashcroft, St. Louis attorney and secretary of state candidate, stopped in Cape Girardeau to promote the measure at a speech held at the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

People are never indifferent about the topic when he brings it up, Ashcroft told the Southeast Missourian's Samantha Rinehart, "The response I get the most is, 'We don't require that?'"

This response is a common sense one, as most of us would surely agree that voting is one of the most sacred American rights. Protecting the integrity of the vote should be as valuable as the vote itself; therefore, requiring voters to show evidence that they are, in fact, who they claim to be seems rudimentary.

So why exactly is there such pushback, even on a national scale? The argument is that requiring photo identification disenfranchises certain segments of the population, minorities in particular. The numbers do not support these fears, however. In the 2012 elections, for example, states with the strictest voter identification laws -- those requiring a photo ID or additional proof if no photo ID was presented -- experienced black voter rates as high as or exceeding white voter rates, according to the Census. The issue also begs the following questions: Has anyone ever provided evidence that photo identification laws suppressed the vote? Has any state that has passed such a law later revoked it because it proved to be discriminatory?

The truth is that most of us know, just from our daily responsibilities, that identification is required for much of what we do -- and yet we manage to present that identification and get those things done. Banking and hospital visits are just two such things, as Ashcroft highlighted.

Some legitimate concerns do exist, however, and we acknowledge them. An attendee of Ashcroft's presentation asked him how the identification requirement will affect the elderly and disabled, and he commented that some states have exceptions, and that the amendment being proposed specifies that general law may provide exceptions to the requirement. It remains to be seen how Missouri will handle these concerns.

Ironically, this issue must also be taken to the polls if it is to become law, but it will require work to get it there. As we have reported, Ashcroft needs to collect 170,000 signatures. The signatures have to amount to at least 8 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in six of the eight congressional districts.

To get the required number of signatures, volunteers are needed. Those interested may sign up at www.protectthevotemo.com.