Missouri House moves forward photo ID requirement for voters

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 5:48 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 15, 2010

*CORRECTION: The House gave first-round approval to a voter identification bill with certain provisions similar to a bill that was declared unconstitutional. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the similarity between the bills.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said on Friday the resolution differed because the identification requirement would be proposed to voters before becoming law. He also said the new legislation, if enacted by voters, would not go into effect until 2012, giving voters time to obtain the proper documentation to vote.

Diehl also said his resolution would provide a number of exemptions, such as religious objections or financial hardship. He said voters who qualify under one of the exemptions would be required to sign an affidavit affirming their reason for not having required identification.

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.

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