JEFFERSON CITY — The House gave first-round approval to a voter identification bill with *certain provisions similar to a bill that was declared unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2006.
The bill would require voters to present government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot.
Some Democrats said the new ID requirement would reinstate pre-Civil Rights movement laws aimed at blocking racial integration and black enfranchisement.
"It's no less shameful than the poll taxes and the Jim Crow laws that we once had in this country," said Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart.
The Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional because it imposed a "heavy burden" on would-be voters without significantly preventing voter fraud.
But the bill's sponsor, Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, said the bill would allow more citizens to vote by opening a week of voting before November's second Tuesday. He said voters wouldn't need to give an excuse for voting early.
"This bill, I think, is a good, common sense approach to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat," he said.
The chairman of the House Elections Committee, Rep. Bill Deeken, R-Jefferson City, also mentioned that the bill is a compromise. He said it gives Democrats their long-sought advanced voting option while curbing chances to sway elections with false identification.
Despite Democrats' skepticism about a single instance of voter fraud on record, Deeken said voter fraud is a problem in Missouri.
The bill still needs second-round approval from the House before moving to the Senate.