League of Women Voters: Voters Win: Anti Voter Constitutional Amendment Dies in Missouri Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2008
1:12 PM

CONTACT: League of Women Voters
Maggie Duncan (202) 263-1332
mduncan@lwv.org

 
Voters Win: Anti Voter Constitutional Amendment Dies in Missouri Senate
League of Women Voters: “Protect, Don’t Deny Voters Their Rights”
 
WASHINGTON, DC - May 19 - The Missouri Legislature ended their legislative session for the year without a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required all citizens to have photo identification and proof of citizenship as a prerequisite to voting. The bill, HJR 48, was considered one of the most restrictive Voter ID bills of its kind in the nation. The legislation would have prevented up to 240,000 Missourians from voting.

“The death of this bill is the rebirth of hope that all Missouri voters will have their voices heard this November,” said national League of Women Voters president Mary G. Wilson. “Thanks to the hard work of the Missouri League, and the efforts of a broad coalition of organizations, hundreds of thousands of Missouri voters will be protected from a discriminatory requirement that would do nothing to actually improve the voting process.”

“This is a clear signal to lawmakers nationwide that they should be in the business of protecting voters and encouraging participation, not denying us our most fundamental rights,” she concluded.

The League of Women Voters helped create Missourians for Fair Elections, a coalition of organizations and individuals that worked diligently to educate the legislators and voters of Missouri about the negative ramifications of the proposed constitutional amendment. Because of the coalition’s hard work, thousands of contacts were made with lawmakers in the past two weeks.The League joined the AARP, labor organizations, disability advocates and other community organizations in the effort to ensure that every citizen’s voting rights were protected by making sure this bill did not become law.

Missourians for Fair Elections released a statement that included the following thoughts from individuals that would have been directly affected by HJR 48:

“I am relieved that I will be able to vote this fall,” said Lillie Lewis, a St. Louis city resident, “I’ve been voting in every election since I can remember, but if I needed my birth certificate, that would be the end of that. I hope this is the last we hear of this nonsense.” Lillie Lewis was born in Mississippi, but the state sent her a letter stating they have no record of her birth.

Birdell Owen, a Missouri resident who was displaced by hurricane Katrina, also voiced her relief. “I should be able to participate in my democracy,” she said, “even if Louisiana can’t get me a copy of my birth certificate. I’m glad Missouri politicians had the sense to protect my right to vote.”

Kathleen Weinschenk, of Columbia, Missouri, has been fighting to protect her right to vote, and that of others, since 2006. She has cerebral palsy, and doesn’t drive because of her disability. Without a birth certificate from Arkansas, she cannot get a Missouriphoto ID. Kathleen is elated that the constitution will not be changed to prohibit her from voting. “Today, freedom rings,” she said.

To learn more about the League’s efforts to protect voters all over the country, visit our Public Advocacy for Voter Protection project at www.lwv.org/pavp.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 88 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

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