As a student at Washington University in St. Louis, I live in the state of Missouri for most of the year. I am affected by Missouri’s state laws. The decisions that Missouri legislators make directly impact my life. I do not, however, have a Photo ID issued by the state of Missouri; I have no reason to. I don’t have a car here, so I have no need for a Missouri driver’s license. This doesn’t change the fact that I live in Missouri, and it is why I’m so offended by and terrified of Missouri’s Amendment 6, a new Voter ID measure that would silence the voices of many of the college students in the state.
Amendment 6 states that, when voting in Missouri, one must “identify himself or herself and verify his or her qualifications as a citizen of the United States of America and a resident of the state of Missouri by providing election officials with a form of identification, which may include valid government-issued photo identification.” Voter ID laws like this one are nothing new, and I have always been opposed to them. The lawmakers behind these laws claim that they prevent voter fraud, which has been found to be so rare that its effect is negligible on elections. However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, Voter ID laws actually prevent the 11% of the U.S. population (over 24 million people) who do not have access to photo IDs from voting. These laws serve to silence these voices.
What, then, does Missouri’s new Voter ID measure have to do with college students? This measure goes a step beyond the traditional disenfranchisement of the poor by opening the door for an additional requirement – that the ID used to vote must be issued by the state of Missouri. It is highly unlikely that students who have come from out of state to study at Missouri universities would have Missouri-issued IDs. Not only is this unconstitutional on a technical level, violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause (which requires states to accept each other’s official documents), but it goes against the very spirit of our democracy. College students are the future leaders of America, and we will inherit the consequences of the decisions that our representatives today make. We are also affected by the laws made by Missouri politicians, and we deserve a voice in our government. Nobody deserves to be silenced simply because they don’t have the proper ID. We can’t let a law take away our most fundamental right to a voice in our democracy.
It’s not too late, we can stand up to this injustice. They are trying to silence our generation with this ballot measure, but we can fight back. There are countless reasons that every young adult should vote, but this is the single most important. If we do not vote now, we run the risk of losing our right to vote in the future. Go to the polls on November 8th, and vote no on Amendment 6. You can vote to preserve your right to vote. Spread the word about this attempt to suppress the student vote, so that we together can unite against this injustice and stand up to preserve our voice in the government.