Obama, Holder silent on 10k potentially disenfranchised Joplin tornado victims

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Approximately 10,000 people in Joplin, Missouri may be disenfranchised because of the May 2011 tornado that destroyed the town, local news outlets are reporting, but President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan are nowhere to be found.

The Joplin Globe reported early this week that about 10,000 voter registration cards were returned to Jasper County headquarters.

“Election officials say many of the cards being returned were sent to residents in Joplin and Duquesne who moved after their homes were damaged or destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado but have not yet changed their address with election officials,” Susan Redden wrote for the local paper.

Missouri has a primary on Tuesday.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, told The Daily Caller that he thinks Obama, Holder, Nixon and Carnahan need to get involved and fix this problem now.

“I call on Gov. Nixon, Attorney General Holder and President Obama to get in there and make sure that these people’s rights to vote are not infringed,” Kinder said in a Friday phone interview. “As long as they let this problem just fester, their pledges of assistance to Joplin ring hollow.”

“I absolutely believe that our secretary of state is asleep on the job, delinquent, debilitatory, and I don’t know why she doesn’t drive herself into Joplin and get about the business of taking care of this immediately,” Kinder added, referring to Carnahan. “I drove myself from the state capitol, Jefferson City, to Joplin yesterday for my own set of appointments in the evening and this morning. People are upset about this.”

Kinder said he thinks there 10,000 people being disenfranchised because of a tornado is “apparently no concern of the Department of Justice in Washington.”

“They’re too busy suing states that implement a photo ID,” he said.

Kinder said the president hasn’t even followed through on his promises to support Joplin, even though Obama has been there three times, and gave a speech at Joplin High School’s commencement in May 2012 as his re-election campaign was heating up.

“The president has been there three times in the year and three months since the tornado,” Kinder said. “He’s pledged all support that they need from the federal [government] — and silence on this issue. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, has been there every three days since the tornado fifteen or fourteen months ago. He has repeatedly promised ‘whatever you need …'”

Election Journal reports that Obama, Holder, Nixon and Carnahan’s inaction may be because the district is heavily Republican. “Sen. John McCain won Jasper County with 65 percent of the vote in 2008,” the publication says.

Kinder tends to agree: “This is a heavily Republican county and it has been for years. I believe if it had been a majority Democratic district, she [Carnahan] would have been all over this,” he said.

Obama’s inaction seems to contradict what he promised people in Joplin in late May 2011, after touring the damaged areas with Nixon.

“The main thing I just want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy,” Obama said on May 29, 2011. “This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response. Craig Fugate, who has probably been the busiest man in the federal government over this last bit of months, has been on the ground since just the day after this happened, and he’s helping to coordinate with an outstanding team of state and local officials. We’re going to do everything we can to continue whatever search-and-rescue remains. We are doing everything we can to make sure that folks get the shelter that they need, the support that they need.”

Obama had even promised to “cut through any red tape that’s necessary with respect to rebuilding here,” and that he’d be helping the tragedy’s victims “long after the cameras leave.”

TheDC’s requests for comment from the U.S. Department of Justice and Carnahan’s office went unanswered.

UPDATE 2 p.m. Sunday:

Jasper County clerk Bonnie Earl told The Daily Caller there’s no way at all any voters will not be allowed to vote. “I am the Election Authority in Jasper County and there is absolutely, positively no possibility of any voters not being allowed to vote,” Earl said in an email. “Missouri law states that the EA shall send new Voter ID cards every two years. Those cards were recently mailed and we had a higher number returned to us due to the horrific tornado that occurred here last year. Many people have been displaced. It is the voter’s responsibility to change his or her address when they move. There are several forms of identification that the voter can lawfully use in the state of Missouri to vote. So, not having a current voter ID does not exclude them from voting.”

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, a freshman Republican whose district includes Joplin, told TheDC he doesn’t expect problems either.

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