Under the headline "St Louis does it again," a newspaper in St. Joseph, MO, editorialized last week that the recent announcement by St. Louis Election Board chair Kim Mathis that the Board had rejected more than a thousand questionable (incomplete, duplicate, or forged) new voter registration forms collected by ACORN should be of concern to the Missouri Supreme Court. In striking down the state’s voter ID law, the Supreme Court argued that defenders of the law had produced "no evidence of any voter impersonation fraud in Missouri." According to the St. Joe editors the "Supreme Court should know where" with the implication that the Supreme Court should bend its interpretation to the state’s Constitution to address a perceived problem in St. Louis.
With all due respect to the sages in St. Joe, the more telling question about voter fraud isn’t "where?", but rather "how?"
An investigation of St. Louis voting by the US Department of Justice under AG John Ashcroft found no evidence of the sorts of voter fraud that could be remedied by a voter ID card; rather, federal investigators found evidence that eligible St. Louis voters had been effectively disenfranchised.
Like the St. Joe editors, I support fair elections in which all votes are cast by eligible voters. And, I support voter ID cards that are free and very easy for all eligible voters to obtain. But, I don’t think that any new law should limit its scope to voter ID cards. Rather, any voter ID law should also address other potential sources of vote problems, including fraud during voter registration drives; intimidation during the arcane absentee voting period; the security and accuracy of new voting technologies; the condition of voter registration lists; and the training given to state, local, and temporary election officials in St. Louis, St. Joseph, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, and every other “saintly” place in the state.