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16 February 2012

Burlison: Maintaining Honest Elections

Last week, while the media lambasted the General Assembly for failing to eliminate our State's non-binding primary, Republicans fought to strengthen electoral accountability by passing a crucial election reform. In the House, we have a history of fighting to strengthen our State's elections; in fact, last session we passed two crucial pieces of election legislation. SB 282 would have tied the choosing of our delegates to the primary results by moving the election to March to ensure that all of our State's delegates were counted.

Similarly, to address fraudulent voting, we passed a Voter Identification Bill which would have created fairer elections. Unfortunately, by vetoing both pieces of legislation, Governor Nixon neglected the growing problem of fraudulent voting and required our State to face losing half of our delegates at the party conventions.

Voter fraud is not a mythical issue. In its majority opinion upholding Indiana's Voter Identification law, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that flagrant examples of voter fraud are real and could affect the outcome of a close election. This month, the Pew Center released a study revealing that approximately 24 million active voter registrations are invalid or contain significantly innaccuracies. With1 in 8 active voter registrations flawed or invalid, there is no time for indecision. If this problem remains unchecked, it will erode the democratic principles of our elections by diluting the voice of legitimate voters. HB 1104 takes steps to protect the integrity of our elections by requiring voters to prove their identity. This ensures that all eligible votes can be cast without fear of fraud.

I sincerely hope that Governor Nixon will consider this bill on its own merits when it reaches his desk. Though he vetoed a similar bill last session, the current version takes strong precautions to prevent voter disenfranchisement. Critics of the bill argue that requiring voters to show a photo ID will suppress the vote of elderly, minority and poor citizens who they claim are less likely to have photo identification. In an effort to alleviate these concerns, HB 1104 allows all citizens without the proper photo identification to obtain one free of charge from the state or their local license bureau.

Visitors To The Capitol

Amber Wilson and Caroline Williams from MSU voice their concerns to me at the Capitol

Nurse Anesthetist students from Springfield visit with me in the chamber

Dental hygienist students from our District took time to speak with me in Jefferson City

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