City Council certified the February 7 election results in which voters narrowly passed the measure (see below).
Businesses will now be penalized if
caught employing someone not legally allowed to work in the
Supporters say this is not about checking a person's immigration status, but rather a move to protect jobs.
City staff is now putting together
resources to assist businesses with the new requirements. The law will be
enforced once the checking system is complete.
February 7, 2012 Report: Controversial E-Verify Initiative Narrowly Passes in
As of 9:45 p.m., Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff said there were "28 ballots left to count," but that won't matter.
The unofficially tally with 97.56 percent of precincts reporting is 50.68 percent "yes" votes to 49.32 percent "no." That's 8,247 to 8,026 votes. About 14 percent of registered turned out to vote Tuesday.
E-Verify is a free online system that checks a person's eligibility to work in the United States. The local initiative was sponsored by the Ozarks Minutemen.
Supporters of the Citizens for a United Springfield organization rallied against E-Verify in the days ahead of Tuesday's vote. They took their "vote no" campaign to the streets, knocking on doors and delivering yard signs opposing E-Verify.
Opponents believed the initiative would be a burden on businesses, non-profits and civic groups and burden the city with costly legal fees.
"It causes grave doubts about the sincerity of what is the true purpose of the policy," said Cheryl Clay, president of the Springfield Chapter of NAACP. The group, as well as the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said late last year it could not endorse this ballot initiative. The Chamber's Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the ballot measure.
"E-verify is not going away," said Ozarks Minuteman Spokesperson Jerry Wilson ahead of Tuesday's vote. "It's only going to become stronger. The program over the years since it started has become more and more accurate,"
Late last week, Springfield Mayor Jim O'Neal and representatives from the City Council and Chamber of Commerce took part in a rally, speaking out against E-Verify.
"It's going to have so many negative, unintended consequences for our city, our economy and our ability to attract workforce," said Springfield Mayor Jim O'Neal.
Ozarks Minuteman spokesperson Jerry Wilson said not only is the city mischaracterizing the process the Minutemen went through to have their petition and the initiative certified, they said they hoped for City Council to pass the E-Verify ordinance so they could make the needed changes.
"At some point we found out fines are a purview of the federal government at that point had already turned it in to the city clerk," said Wilson. "You know, it took us a year and a half to get this ordinance to the City of Springfield and to the voters. Our goal in the beginning was to get it to the voters and we've achieved that. It would have been great if City Council would have passed it, they could have made changes, but failing that voters have a chance to speak, certainly respect that what I may say is if they fail to pass this we may be paying for a long time."
City Council could amend the ordinance after six months with a unanimous vote. However, Zone 2 City Council woman Cindy Rushefsky has said that if the people of Springfield vote in the measure she will not vote to overturn the results of a valid election.
To get a petition on the ballot, Springfield city charter says petitioners need qualified signatures from ten percent of the number of voters who cast a ballot in the last general municipal election. There are 106,000 registered voters in Springfield, but the E-Verify petition needed only 2,100 signatures.
On Monday, Springfield City Council's Plans & Policies Committee met and discussed making a change, requiring that 5 percent of all registered voters in the city offer up a valid signature. This would mean roughly 5,300 signatures would be required to take an issue to voters.