State legislatures with their flag-waving, fear mongering members are working to increase the barriers to vote once again. Now that the hurdle of a photo ID has been upheld by the Supreme Court in its decision this past April in Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008), the next obstacle that fear mongers want to impose to suppress voting is the requirement of proof of citizenship.

Missouri lawmakers are expected to support a proposed state constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote. Ostensibly, the amendment is to address illegal immigrants converging on the polls and stealing elections. In reality, it is aimed at deterring voter blocks that typically vote democratic. No evidence has been produced to justify the new restriction – only the use of fear to implant the idea in the public’s mind that elections are being stolen by illegal immigrants.

And Missouri isn’t the only state moving toward more restrictions on voting. Ten other states are now in the process of passing “Proof of Citizenship Bills.”

In most cases, potential voters will have to produce an original birth certificate, naturalization papers, or a passport. Most people I know do not keep their birth certificates handy. I got one many years ago, and, at the same time, I also got one of the small, laminated ones that I carry in my pocketbook.

I will lay you odds, though, that I am in the minority on this one. Flag-waving patriots will assure everyone that obtaining a birth certificate is a piece of cake. I have news for the flag waivers, it isn’t. To get a birth certificate requires that you either go to the department of health in person, or provide an ID for a mail-in request. The cost is $10.00 to obtain a certificate in person or through the mail. But what if you don’t have an ID to get a birth certificate?

Well, then you must trek to your local BMV, get an ID, and return to the health department to present it to then get your birth certificate.

But you may be happy to know that an express process to obtain a birth certificate – for emergencies – has been provided. VitalChek will speed the process for a mere $28.50 using U.S. regular mail and $46.00 for FedEx overnight. I am sure that everyone can afford those prices for a birth certificate. One of the criticisms of the Indiana photo ID requirement was that for some, the cost would be a stopper. The state magnanimously agreed to provide free licenses to those who proved they could not afford them. I wonder if that will happen if birth certificates are required?

Requiring proof of citizenship is nothing more than a distraction from the many problems our country faces. But what a distraction: jump up and down about illegal immigrants and the possibility that they are stealing elections, and you have a bulit-in issue – even if no evidence exists to support the accusations.

The addition of proof of citizenship just adds one more layer of difficulty to a process that continues to be fodder for election year pandering. And just when you thought you were safe in the voting booth, Republicans have come up with a new way to suppress voter turnout.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Citizenship, Democracy, Elections, Voting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ice-ironman says:

    So all those men who died for our country, all those who were wounded, all of those who suffered frostbite, disease, sickness, time away from loved ones, piss poor meals, dehydration, mental illness, ptsd, divorce, torture, loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of friends, all of these things and you cant get a birth certificate? The one thing they died for is democracy and the root of that is voting. I dont mind a LITTLE effort to vote. Every American is going to dish out 20+ dollars for a digital converter box but you dont want the elections to be fair? Come on this one is laughable.

  2. What does dying, getting wounded, suffering, etc. have to do with getting a birth certificate?

    Forcing individuals to get birth certificates is just one more ploy to make voting more difficult. We jumped up and down and Bush lauded how our plans for “democracy” were working when all Iraqis had to do was show up, vote, and dip their fingers in ink to show they voted.

    How did we know there weren’t illegal immigrants from Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. who voted in the Iraqi election?

    Funny how we see it differently when it is somewhere else.

    Why don’t we just go back to charging a poll tax or requiring an oath to vote? Or having everyone who enters the polling place read a couple of paragraphs of some manual to show they can read?

    You know as well as I do, this is simply a Republican tactic to make it more difficult for voters who typically vote democratic. No big secret. Sorry, I don’t find it laughable at all.

    And what on earth does paying $20 for a digital converter box so one can watch TV – and which you don’t need an ID to buy – have to do with voting? Big stretch and one that is totally irrelevant.

    By the way, Indiana imposed the ID law arguing that it would prevent voter fraud, yet the state couldn’t come up with any instances of fraud occurring. Just like so many other scare tactics used by Republicans and conservatives – yell fraud, and you scare Americans into whimpering into submission.

  3. ice-ironman says:

    The refrence to the converter box is about money. A subject you brought up. It would cost money to get the birth certificate right? We will spend 20 dollars on a converter box but not 20 dollars to get a birth certificate (which we should have anyway) to vote? I thought Hispanics generaly voted Republican? Wouldnt this be in odds of the “plan”? Dont we all just want a clean and pure election? This would eleminate the 2000 election, you know the one where GWB won. Why not eleminate all doubt?

  4. M Badgett says:

    There are issues other than money that make this plan problematic. If one state is willing to waive the cost of obtaining a birth certificate; it doesn’t help those of us born in other states that may not be willing to waive the fee, not to mention the inability to deal with the agency in person. This process could certainly extend the amount of time one would need to register to vote prior to an election. I could see this having a negative impact on registering new voters or extending the election season making them even more expensive. Also, what happens to all the people who for whatever reason have a different name on their birth certificate than the name on all their other IDs? Prior to 9-11 it may have been easier to gather documentation needed but that is not the case now. When my wallet was stolen a few years ago the process to gather the id needed would’ve taken approximately 6 months and about $150. I’ve voted in every general election since 1984 and a majority of the primaries and find it interesting that if this law passes and I have to re-register that I may not be able to vote; even with a birth certificate since my last name on on that document is different than that name on my license.

  5. Jim says:

    Isn’t this post out of date? It looks like the MO state legislature closed its session in May without passing the bill. Am I missing something?

  6. Jim:

    The concept of increased barriers to voting was the point of the post. I know I wrote about the issue after the Missouri action, but I also included a discussion of other states which are moving toward making voting more difficult.

    I don’t know, are you missing something?

  7. clint jenkins says:

    Increased barriers to voting? Do you mean leagal voting? How do we have a legal vote without ID. I guess the chicago Obama method of vote early and often is a great thing

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