Shorter MSNBC: Nonpartisan Elections in Ferguson Are 'Shenanigans' Which 'Disenfranchise' Black Voters

August 21st, 2014 6:07 PM

One week after staff writer Zachary Roth hinted  that Ferguson, Missouri's April municipal elections are racially discriminatory, MSNBC host Joy Reid took that argument out for a spin on the Thursday, August 21 edition of her eponymous Reid Report program with guests MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor and Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D). Oddly enough, Ms. Reid laid some blame on the "city's strange politics" resulting from the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as that generally left-leaning movement created the sort of non-partisan, off-year municipal elections that the St. Louis suburb uses. [LISTEN to MP3 audio clip here; video update forthcoming]

For her part, guest Goldie Taylor churned out the usual MSNBC talking points about voter ID laws and  "voter suppression", etc., even though moments earlier Reid pointed out that African-American voter turnout in 2012 in Ferguson had been 54 percent, which suggests that lack of interest in municipal politics -- as compared to presidential politics -- was chiefly to blame for the paltry 6 percent African-American voter turnout in the 2013 city elections in Ferguson. What's more, contrary to Taylor's suggestion, the Show-Me State does NOT require voters to show a photo ID. It's categorized by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures as a "ID requested; photo not required" state. Here's what is required as far as identification goes, according to the Missouric Secretary of State's website:

  • Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state, or a local election authority of the state
  • Identification issued by the United States government or agency thereof
  • Identification issued by an institution of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school, located within the state of Missouri
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter
  • Driver's license or state identification card issued by another state

If you do not possess any of these forms of identification, you may still cast a ballot if two supervising election judges, one from each major political party, attest they know you.

You'll notice that in Missouri you CAN use a school ID to vote and even an out-of-state photo ID, something MSNBC host complain that states like Texas don't permit. What's more, if you lack a photo ID, you can use a utility bill, paycheck, or government benefits check "that contains the name and address of the voter" to establish identity. Failing that, you can have election judges vouch for your identity. This is hardly an onerous voter ID scheme and should not be a barrier to voters accessing the polls. Missouri is slightly more stringent than states with no ID requirement, but the bar is low enough to not be an obstacle for the vast majority of residents.

But wait there's more. Taylor considered it "shenanigans" that the municipal elections are nonpartisan, suggesting it was a conspiracy to prevent black voters from knowing the threat that a -- oh the horror -- Republican might unwittingly be elected to serve as town mayor:

There are certain voter suppression measures that are going on in terms of, you know, holding those off-year elections.

The current mayor of Ferguson was a former president of the St. Louis Young Republicans. If that had shown up anywhere on that ballot, I don't know that he'd be mayor today.

And so there are a number of so-called shenanigans going on that keep a certain part of the community in power and another part of the community, you know, locked out and disenfranchised.