To The Editor:

The most fundamental right of our democracy is the freedom to vote, but now that right is under threat in Missouri by conservative politicians in Jefferson City.

Under the pretense of protecting elections from voter fraud (for which no evidence exists), conservatives succeeded in misrepresenting the issue to voters, who ironically agreed to an amendment limiting their own rights. I myself was disenfranchised at the last election through a misinterpretation by local election officials.

Actually, the photo ID law is intended to discourage, confuse and intimidate voters of perceived demographic groups who traditionally support Democratic candidates in districts where Republicans seek to gain an advantage.

Consider these unjust aspects of the law:

Photo ID is an unconventional qualification that impedes the right to vote, much in the manner of poll taxes and voter tests that were long ago ruled unconstitutional.

The law takes the simple process of voting and unnecessarily complicates and confuses it with mistruths and distractions making voting inconvenient and disrupted for some voters. Even election officials are not fully conversant in the law and how to apply it.

Voters who forget or refuse to show their photo ID are asked to sign an affidavit stating they do not “possess” the ID (when in fact they do), thus committing perjury. Voters who choose this action and the election officials who permit it are both committing a voting fraud.

As voter registration does not require a photo ID, why then should the standard to vote be greater than the standard to register?

From my own observation, election officials do not make even a cursory comparison of voters to their photo IDs, let alone a careful examination. Appearances change, and there is no stated criteria for confirming identity.

Voter information cards state, “By law, all registered voters must now present a government-issued photo ID.” This statement is blatantly untrue, for the law has a loophole that allows voters to just have their signatures verified, the ultimate and universal voter identification in Missouri.

When presenting a photo ID, voters now are required to say their name out loud before the officials. This compromises the voter’s privacy and violates the fundamental concept of the secret ballot.

Driver licenses are scanned with a digital reader by the election official, and all the personal information on the license is recorded and retained without the voter’s permission. When anyone is disenfranchised by this unjust law, we should all care, for their rights are our rights as well. Chiselling away at voting rights places a peril on all of us. We must protect our essential right to vote more so than any other.

Alarmingly, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ohio may erase from the voting rolls the names of all voters who have not voted within six years, for whatever reason. The matter was initiated by Ohio’s secretary of state. Imagine if concealed carry permits were revoked for failure not to use the weapon. The right to vote is truly an inalienable right, and denying any citizen of this right without due process is egregious.

The right to vote precedes the right to bear arms. While most people in Franklin County support the Second Amendment, they are less concerned about jeopardy to their own voting rights. Consider this re-interpretation of the Second Amendment: “An empowered electorate being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to vote shall not be infringed.”

Real voter fraud occurs when politicians and candidates commit fraud on the voters when they lie and cheat, take dark money from billionaire oligarchs, fail to disclose their taxes, accept gifts from lobbyists, profit financially from their elected positions, abuse the people’s trust by leaving office and stepping into lucrative jobs as lobbyists and consultants, and deceive the public with costly, insulting negative ads and propaganda.

In the forthcoming election, I will again refuse to show my photo ID and demand that I may vote and have my vote counted. Even if you have a photo ID and wish not to be inconvenienced, let your conscience be your guide.

                   Terry Beckmeyer

                   New Haven