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Missourians Could Vote on Election Reform

May 12, 2009

Jefferson City, MO – While Missouri is contemplating a constitutional amendment to require a government-issued photo ID to vote, a new report argues that there are already too many obstacles when it comes to voting, with the result that millions of people are left out of the democratic process.

Julie Burkhart, executive director of the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, says the type of reform Missouri is pushing for will disenfranchise low-income, disabled and minority voters, who are least likely to have a picture ID.

"And this system does not need to be fixed. It is already a well-functioning system in this state."

The report from Women's Voices, Women Vote finds that 79 million eligible adults nationwide were shut out of the process during the last Presidential election. Proponents say government-issued photo IDs will prevent election fraud, while others, such as Burkhart, agree that election reform is needed, but caution that not all election reform legislation favors the growing and diverse American electorate.

President Page Gardner of Women's Voices, Women Vote says one way to ensure eligible voters have an opportunity to vote is to expand early and absentee voting to give them more flexibility in casting their ballots.

"This is one of the best measures to adopt, making it easier, particularly for people whose lives are stretched and stressed, to exercise their right to vote."

The election reform legislation that would require a government-issued photo ID is awaiting action in the Missouri House. If it passes, it moves on to the Senate in this final week of the legislative session, then would go on to the voters in 2010.

To access the Women's Voices, Women Vote report go to www.wvwv.org.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO