FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Contact: Ryan Hobart, (573) 526-4734
Secretary Carnahan and Missouri Voters Discuss Costly Effects of Possible Voter Photo ID Law
St. Louis, Mo. – Secretary of State Robin Carnahan joined a group of Missouri voters today at the League of Women Voters office in St. Louis, Mo., to discuss the possible disenfranchisement of up to 240,000 Missourians if a proposed government Photo ID requirement for voting is pushed through the Missouri legislature. Many of those voters present lacked the necessary government issued Photo ID that would be required to vote
"As Missouri's chief elections official, it's my job to ensure fair elections, and elections cannot be fair if eligible voters are not allowed to vote," said Carnahan. "Many of the registered voters who do not have the type of government ID required also do not have copies of the documents needed to obtain a government ID in the first place – like a birth certificate. What we heard today is that getting copies of these can be costly, time consuming and sometimes impossible."
Secretary Carnahan was joined by voters like Lillie Lewis who has spent months trying to get a copy of her birth certificate so that she can get a government ID in Missouri. Mrs. Lewis was born in Mississippi in the mid-1930s and has been told by that state that they have no record of her birth. Without that birth certificate, Mrs. Lewis can not get a government issued Photo ID and therefore would not be allowed to vote if this proposal becomes law.
"It would be unacceptable for a voter to be denied the right to vote in America merely because an inefficient government bureaucracy can not provide a copy of a birth certificate to one of its citizens," added Carnahan. "I urge the legislature to reject any proposal that could put the voting rights of up to 240,000 Missourians at risk."
Also joining Secretary Carnahan was Richard von Glahn a 27-year-old, Ohio born Missouri voter who would be forced to wait several months and pay as much as $20 for a copy of his birth certificate in order to obtain the required government ID.
In addition, Sister Diana Oleskevich, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province and Sister Connie Probst of the Franciscan Sisters of our Lady of Perpetual Help were also there to express concerns because some of the nuns in their convents lack government issued Photo IDs. Other sisters spoke out about the impact this measure could have on nuns in their order. Sister Sandy Schwartz of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary the Angel said that an informal survey indicated that 15 of the 35 voters in her convent did not have a valid government ID of the type required by this proposal. "This may sound like a good idea at first, but once you stop to think about who would really be affected, this is going to keep a lot of our loved ones from being able to vote," she said.
This week it was reported that 12 nuns were turned away from the polls in Indiana because they lacked government Photo IDs.
The Missouri Supreme Court stuck down a 2006 Voter Photo ID law in October of that year, citing that it placed too much of a burden on eligible Missourian's constitutional right to vote.
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