Robin Carnahan says a photo ID requirement will disenfranchise thousands of voters
If there is but one issue Secretary of State Robin Carnahan
would like to take off the table and wish into the cornfield, it is the requirement that voters show photo identification
before they are allowed to cast a ballot.
When the U.S. Supreme Court
last year upheld a tough Indiana law that mandates government-issued ID's, cries rang out that the decision could keep minorities, poor people and other traditional Democratic supporters from voting.
Now, with the prospect of a razor-tight U.S. Senate race
looming on the political horizon between Carnahan and (most likely) Congressman Roy Blunt
, the state's top elections official has no use for a proposed state constitutional amendment
to require voters to present a state-sanctioned photo ID.
"This proposal," Carnahan said earlier this week, "would make it difficult or impossible for thousands of eligible Missourians to cast a ballot."
In fact, Carnahan's office says there are 230,000 voters -- nearly half of them residing in the Democratic strongholds of St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Kansas City
-- who might not be able to vote because they lack the proper ID.
Carnahan does acknowledge that the proposed amendment would provide "free" government-issued photo ID
, but says the underlying documents (proof of identity, proof of residency, and so on) can be expensive and difficult to obtain.
This political hot potato is nothing new. In 2006, a version of the photo ID bill was passed in the state legislature. This triggered a class-action suit and the law was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court
two months before the 2006 election.