Missouri Nuns Fight Voter Disenfranchisement
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Surely, our majority-Catholic Supreme Court should have known better than to get on the wrong side of the Sisters. As we wrote earlier, the first victims of the new ruling on Voter ID were elderly nuns in Indiana. This just in, in my emailbox: The nuns of Missouri rap the Supreme Court's knuckles with a great big ruler:
Nun of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary comments on Voter ID disenfranchisement
WHO: Missourians for Fair Elections
WHAT: Press Conference on the impact of legislation to require government-issued photo ID to vote
WHEN: 1:00 PM, Thursday, May 8, 2008
WHERE: League of Women Voters, 8706 Manchester, Jefferson City, MO 63144
JEFFERSON CITY, MO â€“ On Thursday, May 8, three Missouri voters who lack government-issued photo IDs as well as Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and community leaders will discuss the potential impacts of legislation currently being pushed through the Missouri General Assembly. The proposed legislation would make Missouri one of the toughest states in the country for eligible citizens who want to vote by requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls. If passed, these changes could be in place by the November general election and could put the voting rights at risk for up to 240,000 registered Missouri voters.
"This may sound like a good idea at first," stated Sister Sandy Schwartz of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary regarding voter ID requirements, "but once you stop to think about who would really be affected, this is going to keep a lot of our loved ones from being able to vote." Yesterday in Indiana twelve nuns in their 80s and 90s were turned away from the polls because they lacked the needed IDs to vote. Sister Schwartz and others are concerned about the difficulties the policy change would create for elderly Missouri nuns, as well as other senior citizens, the poor, and minorities.
Editor's Note: The issue before the Missouri Legislature actually has two moving parts: a new photo ID requirement AND a proof of citizenship requirement for new voters. That second piece â€“ requiring that voters produce papers documenting their citizenship is nothing to sneeze at. In Arizona, where such a law has been in place since 2004, approximately 17 percent or some 30,000 voter registration forms have been rejected because of the failure to produce citizenship documents. And itâ€™s not just minorities who are affected. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School reported in November 2006 that slightly more than 50 percent of all married women lack birth certificates with their married names on it. Of course, poor people and the elderly also are disproportionately affected.
Weâ€™ll be watching Missouri next week, when the state Senate is slated to pick up the voter ID bill as it ends its legislative session. --Mike