John Ashcroft’s son pushing constitutional amendment to allow voter ID in Missouri

St. Louis attorney Jay Ashcroft, son of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, is running for Missouri secretary of state as a Republican. And in order to brush up on his conservative bona fides in advance of a primary, he filed an initiative petition on Thursday that would pave the way for a constitutional amendment in the state that would permit the legislature to pass photo ID voting requirements, per the Associated Press.

Missouri’s Supreme Court declared photo ID requirements for voting unconstitutional in 2006, holding that voting is a fundamental right and is therefore subject to heightened scrutiny when restrictions are proposed. Missouri currently has an ID law on the books, but it does not require a photo (a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck suffices).

Ashcroft’s petition seems to be even more of a political ploy when one considers that his primary opponent, State Senator Will Kraus, has already sponsored legislation that would both put a constitutional amendment allowing photo ID on the 2016 ballot and deem photo ID requirements to be state law after such an amendment was approved by the voters. Student IDs and expired IDs would not be accepted, which would put Missouri’s ID law on par with Texas’s and Indiana’s as the most restrictive in the nation. Past attempts at additional voter ID laws in Missouri — pushed by Republicans in the state every year since the court ruling — have been blocked by the Democratic State Senate or vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.

Republicans in the state have also argued that reducing early voting hours is crucial in combatting voter fraud.

If Missouri passed a photo ID requirement, as many as 200,000 voters in the state would be affected. As one could probably guess, what few cases of voter fraud that have been documented in Missouri since 2006 would not have been prevented by a photo ID requirement. However, that didn’t stop the town of Kinloch from refusing to swear in its newly-elected African American mayor and alderman earlier this year over allegations of fraud.

As if one needed further reason to believe that these attempts to keep those who lack photo identification from the polls are anything more than a political maneuver to keep predominantly African-American low-income voters from the polls, one need only look at Missouri’s county-by-county map from the 2012 election:

Source: POLITICO

Source: POLITICO

Those blue dots are, from left to right, counties representing Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis, urban centers that hold much of the state’s African-American population and which voted for President Obama; the rest of the state was deep red. What’s more, Mitt Romney’s ten-point margin of victory came out to just over 200,000 votes, or the number of Missourians who lack a photo ID.

Put another way, if passed, Missouri’s photo ID law could disenfranchise over seven percent of the state’s presidential electorate. All for a a performative, nativist attempt by Republican politicians in the state to prove to their pearly white constituents who’s got the least inclusive interpretation of the democratic ideal.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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26 Responses to “John Ashcroft’s son pushing constitutional amendment to allow voter ID in Missouri”

  1. EdA says:

    Nearly 5,000 brave, patriotic Americans died in Iraq, in part to give Iraqis the opportunity to take part in relatively free and fair elections. And the moral degenerates whose lies helped send them to their deaths are spitting on their graves by actively depriving Americans of the opportunity to take part in choosing our own leaders.

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  3. ComradeRutherford says:

    Exactly. Every vote for a Democrat is PROOF of Voter Fraud!

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  7. Jon Green says:

    Fixed — thanks for the catch!

  8. Brent Hugh says:

    FYI the center county on the map is Boone County, home of Columbia MO, not Jefferson City, MO. Jefferson City is mostly in Cole County with a small portion in Callaway County.

    Just a point of information–the main point of the article still stands, with Boone County harboring one of the larger concentrations of minority population and Democratic Party voters in the state, outside of the Kansas City & St Louis areas.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boone_County,_Missouri
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cole_County,_Missouri
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callaway_County,_Missouri
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_City,_Missouri

  9. Moderator3 says:

    And you handled it beautifully.

  10. therling says:

    I don’t mind his having a differing opinion, but I don’t believe he’s entitled to his own “facts,” offered with no supporting evidence.

  11. Moderator3 says:

    He’s being observed, but offering a different opinion does not make him a troll.

  12. therling says:

    And your comment is complete horseshit, once you look at the actual facts:

    In 2014, “The state recorded the lowest voter turnout in America, with just 28 percent of the voting-eligible Hoosier population showing up to cast ballots.”

    http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/indiana-ranks-last-in-u-s-in-voter-turnout/article_548d8662-6ad0-11e4-815f-bb2a46889474.html

    “Turnout numbers in Washington, Delaware, Missouri, South Dakota, California and Indiana all dropped by more than 10 percentage points between 2010 and 2014.”

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/11/05/midterm-turnout-decreased-in-all-but-12-states

  13. therling says:

    Troll alert!

  14. olandp says:

    Republicans just want to not lose elections.

  15. Dirt Works says:

    Republicans think any vote cast for some one besides one of them is fraud.

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  17. Naja pallida says:

    They just want to stop “undesirables” from voting.

  18. Naja pallida says:

    Since 2000, there has been less than a dozen cases of in-person voter fraud – the only type of election fraud these ID laws make any attempt at all to address – out of hundreds of millions of votes cast, in multiple elections. If they were actually serious about rooting out fraud in the election system, the first thing they’d try to fix would be to prevent rabid partisans from making all the decisions about how elections are run and how votes are counted. That has been the primary source of defrauding the American people, across the board.

  19. 2karmanot says:

    SOCIALISM. And that’s a good thing. The sooner the better!

  20. 2karmanot says:

    Concern snark acknowledged

  21. FLL says:

    This does seem to be a trend in Republican strategy during 2015-2016, doesn’t it? And the number of people convicted of voter fraud is a drop in the bucket… a drop in the Olympic-size swimming pool?

  22. Republicans just want to stop voter fraud… and not lose elections…

  23. pogden297 says:

    Such utter nonsense. Indiana has adopted what has been referred to by Democrats as the most restrictive photo ID requirement in the country. And you know what happened to turnout since the adoption of that law – it went up.

  24. Max_1 says:

    “If Republicans in MO were as concerned about the Poor as they are about that 1 potential fraudulent vote every fifty years, every single poor person in MO would be well housed, well clad, well nourished, properly insured, and employed.
    … Why son, the GOP calls that SOCIALISM.

  25. BigGuy says:

    12 people were convicted of in person voting fraud between 2000 and 2010, out of more than 1,000,000,000 votes cast in all federal, state, and local elections in the USA. (studies at Penn and Harvard)

    There are about 4,500,000 voters in Missouri. If in person voter fraud in MO is like it was in the entire country in the past decade, ONCE every FIFTY years, ONE person may vote in person fraudulently.

    To protect the state from the potential fraudulent vote of 1 person once every 50 years, Republicans say that 200,000+ people must be inconvenienced EVERY year.

    If Republicans in MO were as concerned about the Poor as they are about that 1 potential fraudulent vote every fifty years, every single poor person in MO would be well housed, well clad, well nourished, properly insured, and employed.

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