An Open Letter to State Rep. Shamed Dogan

vote-counts1Dear State Representative Dogan:

I read with great interest your 11/29/2016 guest column “How Missouri’s new voter photo ID requirement works” in the St. Louis American.

As a committeewoman, one of my jobs will be to assist voters in complying with the new law. Sadly, your guest column did not answer any of my questions. So, I am respectfully requesting that you write a follow up column on how one gets a copy of a Missouri Birth Certificate without having a Photo ID.

For example, the mail-in method for a Birth Certificate Copy requires a notarized signature. Perhaps you could provide a list of public notaries in each county and the City of St. Louis who notarize signatures without a Photo ID.

For example, the walk-in method for a Birth Certificate Copy requires a Photo ID of the copy applicant. The copy applicant may be an immediate relative. If the voter’s immediate relative with a Photo ID does not live locally, does the General Assembly plan on paying for transportation, lodging, and compensation for use of a vacation days or lost wages? What if there is no immediate relative with a Photo ID or the voter is not on speaking terms with any immediate relative with a Photo ID?

And how does the Free Supportive Documents work since reimbursement would still place a financial burden upon the voter? Requiring a fee of any kind to vote is a poll tax, as I am sure you are aware.

Counties, including the City of St Louis, pay the State of Missouri to access the State’s Vital Records database and the copy fees are deposited to county general revenue. The Hancock Amendment would prevent the General Assembly from forcing county Vital Records offices to give out free copies.

Or is the plan for voters to get their Free Birth Certificate copies from Jefferson City? Sir, try doing that as a citizen who is not an elected official. See how long it takes to get the copy or if you get the correct copy the first time. Then try helping someone with the surname Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Smith, or Williams get a correct copy from Jefferson City.

And has anyone considered the type of identity fraud and possible aiding of terrorism if the Missouri General Assembly lifts the Photo ID or notarized signature provisions for Birth Certificate copy requests and just lets anyone write in for a copy?

And then there’s the money for all this. But, for right now, I just want to know how you think this will really work.

I look forward to the answers.

Sincerely,
Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman
St. Louis City

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Vote No on Constitutional Amendment 6

voteboxThere is a lot of confusion on what Constitutional Amendment 6 does and does not do.

“Shall the Constitution of Missouri be amended to state that voters may be required by law, which may be subject to exception, to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?”

In neither the ballot language nor the Constitutional Amendment 6 Full Text will you find a program for free photo identification cards, or free copies of birth certificates necessary to get free photo identification cards, or free copies of any other documents that might be necessary.

The free photo identification cards may come later if the Missouri General Assembly funds a program to do so. The problem with that plan is that there was no discussion about what it actually takes to get documentation necessary to be issued an identification card in Missouri.

One of the requirements to get an identification card from a DMV office is a certified copy of your birth certificate. One of the requirements to get a certified copy of a birth certificate is a photo identification card. Yes. That’s right. You need a photo identification card to get a photo identification card in Missouri. Again, there was no discussion on this problem in the legislature.

Once Constitutional Amendment 6 is adopted, there is no guarantee that a free identification card program will be funded and that the Missouri General Assembly will not just require the identification cards to vote.

Constitutional Amendment 6 Opponent Website

St. Louis Public Radio Pro & Con Article on Amendment 6

We were unable to find someone willing to speak as a proponent for Amendment 6 at our 7th Ward Independent Democrats ballot issues forum. Here is the video of the presentation by opponent speaker Denise Lieberman, Senior Attorney, Voter Protection Program, Advancement Project. 

In person voter fraud is not a problem. Really. Truly. The problems reported by legislative advocates of this amendment have nothing to do with in person voting, the focus of the amendment. It’s a solution for an imaginary problem.

Missouri requires identification to vote, just not photo identification. Even if the Legislature were to change how the State issues certified copies of birth certificates, remove the must already have a photo identification card, that change would not affect Missourians born in other states. Other problems include how long it can take to amend a birth certificate that has a name misspelled and persons who have no birth certificate because their birth was not recorded.

Constitutional Amendment 6 is about reducing the number of people who vote.

Vote No on Constitutional Amendment 6, the modern day poll tax.

–Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Chappelle-Nadal Pre-files Forced Annexation Proposal For St. Louis City

Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s Senate Joint Resolution 3 is anti-voter, anti-consolidation, anti-home rule, and a full employment act for lawyers to handle decades of lawsuits.

“That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2016, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article VI of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:”

“Section A. Sections 30(a), 30(b), 31, 32(a), 32(b), 32(c), and 33, article VI, Constitution of Missouri, are repealed and one new section adopted in lieu 3 thereof, to be known as section 30, to read as follows:”

“Section 30. The city of St. Louis shall become a part of St. Louis County and thereafter exist as a city within the county in the same manner as any other city in the county of St. Louis.”

And just like that, magically, the voters of Missouri at the next presidential election could force the City of St. Louis to become a municipality in St. Louis County.

This proposal seeks to disenfranchise the voters of St. Louis City and St. Louis County from making this decision on their own. It’s forced annexation. The Missouri Constitution presently gives the voters of St. Louis City and St. Louis County the right to reorganize their governments in concert.

  • Reentry: St. Louis City Gives Up Being A County. St. Louis City and St. Louis County can negotiate a plan for the City to relinquish its county status and revenue to become a municipality only within the County.
  • ConsolidationOne Big St. Louis City. St. Louis City and St. Louis County can negotiate a plan to consolidate the County into the City.
  • St. Louis City Annexes Part of County. St. Louis City and St. Louis County can negotiate a plan for the City to annex territory within County, expand its borders.
  • Merge/Consolidate One or More Services. St. Louis City and St. Louis County can negotiate a plan to combine services by establishing a district to provide said services.
  • Most Any Other Structure of Government We Want. St. Louis City and St. Louis County can negotiate a plan to create one giant county with no municipalities, create a borough system, whatever we think would be best.

We get this authority from current Missouri Constitution Article VI,

“Section 30(a). The people of the city of St. Louis and the 2 people of the county of St. Louis shall have power (1) to consolidate the territories and governments of the city and county into one political subdivision under the municipal government of the city of St. Louis; or, (2) to extend the territorial boundaries of the county so as to embrace the territory within the city and to reorganize and consolidate the county governments of the city and county, and adjust their relations as thus united, and thereafter the city may extend its limits in the manner provided by law for other cities; or, (3) to enlarge the present or future limits of the city by annexing thereto part of the territory of the county, and to confer upon the city exclusive jurisdiction of the territory so annexed to the city; or, (4) to establish a metropolitan district or districts for the functional administration of services common to the area included therein; or, (5) to formulate and adopt any other plan for the partial or complete government of all or any part of the city and the county.”

Senate Joint Resolution 3 proposes to delete the aforementioned section of the Missouri Constitution and remove the possibility of consolidating St. Louis City and St. Louis County into one large municipality or one large county without any municipalities. It also removes the possibility of consolidating services. The City will continue to provides its services or it may contract with the County for services. It may chose to become a dependent but never again will be a partner.

Senate Joint Resolution 3 also eliminates St. Louis City’s Home Rule Charter by getting rid of all of Missouri Constitution Article VI, Section 31:

“… As a city it shall continue for city purposes with its present charter, subject to changes and amendments provided by the constitution or by law, and with the powers, organization, rights and privileges permitted by this constitution or by law…”

That’s the all important Rex Sinquefield Provision. By removing that section from the Constitution, St. Louis is a municipality without a charter, possibly even disincorporated. Without a charter it is no longer a charter city, which is required for the earnings tax. The earnings tax is roughly 1/3 the City’s Budget. It nearly covers the St. Louis Police Department Budget. But then, we will be dependent on the County for everything, so what does it really matter.

Now you’re saying, that’s nuts, that can’t be. Consider, however, that each time the Missouri Constitution has been amended or there’s been an attempt to amend it, with specific regard to the City’s powers -other than proposals such as Chappelle-Nadal’s- that sentence regarding the City’s charter has always been included.

And you’ll notice this constitutional amendment offers no timeline, no reorganization plan, no process whatsoever for how any of this is supposed to work. It’s now the back-up plan in the event the whole getting rid of the earnings tax with a regional police department funded by a sales tax doesn’t work out.