Voting Rights Called 'At Risk' for More than 200,000 Missourians
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With just a week before the election, Missouri's largest grassroots environmental group
is mobilizing against Constitutional Amendment 6, otherwise known as the Voter ID law.
If approved, it would amend the state constitution to require voters to prove their citizenship and residency, possibly through a government-issued ID.
John Hickey, the Missouri Sierra Club Chapter director, said it would put up unnecessary roadblocks for people who have moved, college students, people with disabilities and the elderly.
"Like my mother, she's 84 years old," he said. "She does not have a current driver's license because she doesn't drive anymore. But she has been voting in this state for more than 60 years and deserves to be able to continue to vote, and yet she does not have an ID that would allow her to vote anymore."
The Missouri Secretary of State's office said there are about 220,000 residents who don't have a photo ID. Amendment 6 was backed by Republicans in the Missouri state House who say it would stop voter impersonation fraud at the polls, but a study by the Brennan Center for Justice said people are more likely to get struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.
Sara Campbell is a veteran from Kansas City who uses a wheelchair. She said not everyone has access to a vehicle to get to the proper government offices to get a new ID.
"If they have to take the bus, that costs money and it takes several hours," she said. "If they live in rural areas, there may be no public transportation at all. And then there's the matter of a lot of people can't afford to take time off work."
Hickey said low-income residents are the most likely to live in areas with pollution problems and their vote on important environmental laws would be quashed. He added that the childhood asthma rates in cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City are double that of the rest of the state.
"The way democracy's supposed to work is, those parents will be able to use their vote to demand action from the state to clean up the air," he added. "But if those parents don't have the right to vote because they're low-income and therefore less likely to have a driver's license because they don't own a car, then how can those parents stand up for their children?"
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