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.