If you are a recently divorced woman, a non-driving person, or a civic-minded student at a Missouri college, some members of the Missouri General Assembly would like to make it more difficult for you to vote. You are likely among the 200,000 registered voters in Missouri who do not have a government-issued photo ID that matches your name and address to the voter rolls. The fact that you have legally registered to vote, and have passed through a statewide voter registration verification system in place since 2006, is irrelevant to some legislators. And the fact that no county clerk anywhere in Missouri has reported a single case of voter impersonation is irrelevant to some legislators. And the fact that local election authorities already have the duty of identifying every voter is irrelevant to some legislators. And the fact that the courts have already ruled that the burden of acquiring photo IDs is too onerous for some is irrelevant to some legislators. And the fact that no less partisan an agency than the Bush Justice Department found no evidence of voter fraud in Missouri elections, but plenty of voter suppression, is irrelevant to some legislators. For these legislators and their supporters, those facts don't really matter.
Why? Someone who does not believe in the essentially good nature of the Missouri General Assembly might argue that the barrier to voting sought by some legislators would be higher for the state's seniors, young people, the very poor, and the less literate. And he might argue that such groups live in disproportionately higher numbers in cities like St. Louis and Kansas City. And he might note that the practical effect of a photo ID law would be to suppress specific voter turnout and dilute the political power of the affected groups. But even without making those arguments, it seems clear that even fewer people than now vote will vote in the future if this becomes law.
That fact should concern everyone, including Governor Nixon, who hopes for the fullest possible exercise of the franchise. There is no bargain or deal worth the practical disenfranchisement of any of the state's voters.