Long before Donald Trump first spouted his lie that hordes of illegal voters had swarmed the polling places – his transparent attempt to soothe his own ego and explain to the nation his substantial loss of the 2016 popular vote – the Republican Party was already fully engaged in its own ongoing big lie about voter fraud. With demographics working against it, the party for years has falsely claimed rampant illegal voting, with the goal of suppressing as many Democratic votes as possible.
The marriage of convenience between the GOP's partisan cynicism and Trump's narcissism led to last year's creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission yielded few if any new findings of fraud but wasted lots of time, money and resources.
Around the same time, a Missouri law requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting their votes took effect. As with Trump's fake commission, it was a deliberately cumbersome solution to a nonexistent problem.
Now a judge is pondering whether to throw out Missouri's voter ID law on constitutional grounds. He should.
So shameless has the GOP been in promoting this particular lie that it needs to be stated plainly: There isn't one scintilla of evidence that illegal voting by undocumented migrants or anyone else is substantially happening in America at all today, let alone that it's moving the electoral needle.
Even the Missouri law's biggest booster, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, while promoting it last year, could point to just one – one – confirmed instance of voter-impersonation in Missouri. When is the last time a major new restriction was imposed on all state citizens based on just one inconsequential act?
Supporters of the law argue it isn't restrictive to make voters show a photo ID or some other form of identification to prove their identity. That argument ignores the estimated 300,000 voting-age Missourians who lack a driver's license; elderly voters in particular could be affected. There are several workarounds available to those without photo IDs, but obviously the more complicated you make the system, the more intimidating it will be to voters. Some will decide not to brave the process at all, and GOP lawmakers calculate the deterrent value will work to their favor.
Against all that, the law is plainly unnecessary: We already have a voter-registration system that prevents double-voting and voter impersonation, and apparently the system works just fine since such fraud almost never happens.
Senior Cole County Judge Richard Callahan ruled Tuesday on a voter ID lawsuit, in which plaintiffs argue the law violates the state Constitution. His ruling blocked key portions of the state's voter photo identification law, meaning some voters could find it easier to cast ballots in a November election. Ashcroft said he plans to ask that the ruling be put on hold while he appeals to a higher court.
The ruling bars election officials from enforcing a requirement that a voter lacking a valid photo ID sign a sworn statement while presenting some other form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot. It also prevents the state from advertising that a photo ID is required to vote.
This law was created for the specific purpose of undermining the whole concept of constitutional democracy with a bad-faith partisan goal of suppressing the vote. Into the dustbin it should go.
– St. Louis Post-Dispatch