Missouri voter photo ID requirement clears House

Thursday, February 14, 2013 | 9:25 p.m. CST; updated 9:46 a.m. CST, Friday, February 15, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — A renewed effort to force Missouri voters to show photo identification cleared the Republican-controlled House on Thursday, but its chances of swiftly advancing beyond that appeared uncertain after the GOP Senate leader said the issue isn't a top-tier priority.

Republican supporters say a photo ID requirement would guard against potential for voter fraud and protect legitimate votes from becoming diluted. Democratic critics contend there have not been recent documented instances of voter impersonation and the requirement would make voting harder for some. Although lawmakers have debated similar ideas during the past several years, this is the first time Republicans have held a veto-proof majority in both legislative chambers.

Missouri voters currently can show a driver's license or other government-issued photo ID or prove their identity with documents that do not contain a photograph, including copies of current utility bills, bank statements or paychecks with their names and addresses.

Under the House proposal, people without a valid driver's license or other government-issued photo ID could cast a provisional ballot. They would sign an affidavit that they could not obtain a photo ID because they cannot afford the supporting documentation, are disabled, have religious beliefs against it or were born before 1948. Provisional ballots would be counted if the signature matches the one on file with local election authorities.

Enacting the proposal takes two pieces: a constitutional amendment that needs voter approval would permit a photo ID requirement and a separate bill then would implement it. Both elements passed the House on Thursday and now go to the Senate.

The constitutional amendment passed 107-46 with support from Democrats. The separate legislation to implement the photo ID requirement passed in a party-line 103-48 vote. Earlier this week, a Senate committee endorsed a similar photo ID proposal.

Rep. Tony Dugger, one of the leading House sponsors, said it represents a significant step against possible fraud.

"This bill is not political. This bill is securing the process," said Dugger, R-Hartville.

Democratic critics were not convinced. They said it could have a particular affect upon the poor, elderly, disabled and minorities.

Rep. Chris Kelly said there is not a serious problem with voter impersonation and the biggest effect would be to poor, black women — whom he said frequently vote for Democratic candidates.

"I believe that the problem is that too many people vote Democratic," said Kelly, D-Columbia.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said the chamber right now has focused on policies to help get Missourians back to work.

"It's not a top-tier priority. We continue to be interested in making sure that people are able to vote easily and that there is no fraud in the system," said Dempsey, R-St. Charles. "So we'll consider legislation where we think we accomplish those goals."

Enacting a photo ID requirement requires a change to the Missouri Constitution because the state Supreme Court struck down a 2006 photo ID law as an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote. That law was passed by a GOP-led Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

In 2011, the Republican-led Legislature passed a constitutional amendment and the separate legislation. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, and a trial judge rejected the ballot summary for the constitutional amendment, calling it insufficient.

Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander said he is disappointed by the House proposal. He called it an "overly restrictive piece of legislation that would disenfranchise thousands of eligible Missourians."

Across the country there have been efforts to require a photo ID at polling stations. In neighboring Arkansas, Republicans think they have the votes for a photo ID requirement with the GOP now controlling the House and Senate. The Arkansas Senate is expected to vote next week on a voter ID measure.

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Darrell Wyatt February 15, 2013 | 4:33 a.m.

Let's be clear, this is legislation being pushed by the conservative and ALEC controlled Republicans that are in the majority in the state house and senate. It is legislation that has nothing to do with the will of the people of Missouri it is all about the will an OUT OF STATE entity, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)and their corporate benefactors.

Voter fraud is not a problem, the problem is the state republicans and the RNC can't win elections with good ideas or with a record of fair and appropriate legislation for a majority of the people. Legislation that could win favor with critically involved voters is not an alternative, so they try to "rig" the system to deny access to voters that are not likely to vote for them or their self serving ideas.

If there is voter fraud, I suggest it may be by those we elect to serve and represent us in congress, on both state and national levels.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 15, 2013 | 8:55 a.m.

"He called it an "overly restrictive piece of legislation that would disenfranchise thousands of eligible Missourians."

Horse puckey.

In today's world, the only folks that get disenfranchised are those who do it to themselves. Given how often a photo ID is required for "life" these days, I simply do not believe thousands would be disenfranchised. In fact, I see no reason it would happen to even one person unless they were lazy or had no friends whatsoever.

Voting should neither be easy nor should it be hard. It is such an important activity that each citizen should have to put out at least some effort to do it. Proving your citizenship in the voting district, proving who you are, knowing where you are supposed to vote, and following voting instructions to the "T" should be minimal requirements.

As for Darrell's comment, I daresay that in my long lifetime a majority of voting fraud in the US has been from Democrats rather than Republicans.

I view voter ID as one small cog in a much larger effort to ensure an honest election. I support the effort....and many others, too.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 15, 2013 | 9:23 a.m.

I'm even uncomfortable with ANY political entity transporting voters to the polls. To me, "getting out the vote" means getting your potential supporters enthused enough to get off their individual asses and go vote, not willy-nilly transporting entire neighborhoods to a polling place. Exceptions would include the infirm, of course, but if you can walk, ride a bus, take a taxi, ride with a friend....then go DO IT without political party help with transportation! Where is your individual dignity, self-help, and respect for your right and responsibility to vote? Make an effort, for heaven's sake!

I don't understand how folks with this so-called "transportation problem" are alive today! How do they pay bills, go to the bank, get medical help, get groceries? Is the act of "voting" so unique that folks otherwise able to manage life activities become utterly helpless in the face of voting?

Sorry, I ain't buyin' these arguments.

Step 1: Prove you are who you say you are. This requires a picture...of YOU!

Then we can address other forms of voting fraud.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 15, 2013 | 9:34 a.m.

Not once in my long life of voting have I blamed anyone else for my not being able to vote. Once I moved and failed to note the change in my polling place; rather than go to the other place, I quit and went home (without getting mad). Was this anyone elses' fault?


It was mine. I was lazy and didn't care enough to drive the extra distance. I deliberately showed disrespect for my right and obligation to vote.

Once, I failed to follow instructions with my ballot. Too late I realized my error. Was this anyone's fault other than my own?


It was mine. I was in a hurry and showed disrespect for my right and obligation to vote.

When it comes to disenfranchisement, every time someone votes fraudulently, that disenfranchises either me or someone else.

I resent that, will fight against that, and will support laws that require identifying yourself and your citizenship, following instructions, and making your own effort to show the hell up.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger February 15, 2013 | 10:49 a.m.

In a five-year period during the Bush administration there were 86 cases of proven voter fraud. Eighty-six out of millions upon millions of votes cast. Voter ID laws in 32 out of 33 states have been proposed by Republican legislators, passed in Republican-controlled statehouses, and signed by Republican governors. With apologies to Mr. Wyatt above, allow me to repeat, "Voter fraud is not a problem, the problem is the state republicans and the RNC can't win elections with good ideas or with a record of fair and appropriate legislation for a majority of the people." Or to put it another way, if certain groups of the electorate aren't voting for Republican candidates, Republicans will thwart their ability to vote at all.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 15, 2013 | 11:32 a.m.

So voter fraud is such a rarity that it's not worth mandating IDs. Okay, but mass shootings are a rarity, too, yet many Dems at the state and federal level advocate draconian laws, and even confiscating guns. Why are new laws for the latter okay but not for the former?

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote February 15, 2013 | 11:52 a.m.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result. It was amended in 1982 to stipulate that the discrimination need not be intentional.
I don't think anyone who honestly assesses the situation thinks that Voter ID laws will not disproportionately effect minorities. It is a matter of simple statistics. A subset of those without IDs will not get IDs and therefore will not be allowed to vote. The population of voters without IDs is disproportionately represented by minorities. Ergo a disproportionate number of minorities will be disenfranchised. If we accept this premise, it strikes me that these photo ID laws run afoul of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Perhaps a reporter from the Missourian could ask one of our state representatives why they think the fear of a particular type of voter fraud, that is virtually nonexistent in practice, trumps the US constitution? Perhaps the Missourian could also produce some data showing who will be effected by the law, and what that effect will have on the make-up of the Missouri electorate, i.e. will a specific political party gain an electoral advantage by enacting this legislation.

(Report Comment)
Darrell Wyatt February 15, 2013 | 12:26 p.m.

"I daresay that in my long lifetime a majority of voting fraud in the US has been from Democrats rather than Republicans."

I say, "we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts."

Great! Participating in our democracy for a long life of voting! You, like me, can remember then when republicans were willing to act in a manner that allowed our government to work in the way it was designed to do. Pre-Reagan years. What we get from the "Grand Obstruction Party" today is disrespectful vitriolic talking points designed to gin up the unknowing electorate into spreading them like a bad cold for the brain to all who are susceptible. Just watch what the conservatives do, not what they say!

By the by, I get the connotation of 'lazy'. It's always the 'others' that are the problem, always those 'lazy others'.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 15, 2013 | 1:06 p.m.

Darrell: Your comment about getting the connotation of "lazy" has me flummoxed, especially the "others are lazy" part.

Did I, or did I not, use the term "lazy" in connection with MYSELF? That's about as far away from "lazy others" as you can get! Whatever are you talking about?

ChrisF: Sorry dude. I do not consider it discriminatory when someone fails to get something easy and readily available, especially when that "something" is required in so many other aspects of daily life. Your failure to act is NOT discrimination on my part. Rather, it's neglect on yours.

I think JimmyB made a great point, one based upon statistics and probability. I anxiously await a rebuttal.

I note that several StL democrats have introduced a gun control measure in the House that has about as much chance at passage as me agreeing with Dave Rosman. I intend to use this example whenever a poster gripes at our state congress for trying to pass so-called foolish legislation.

To paraphrase many this state, we won and you lost. Deal with it.

Gawd, that felt good. I understand why y'all say it in a national context. I may even do it again!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 15, 2013 | 1:13 p.m.

Darrell: Ahhh, yer talking about my 8:55 am post.

To clarify, "lazy" in this context means just not caring enough.

I still don't know what you thought it meant. That means I don't get what you got.

Perhaps you can enlighten???

(Report Comment)
Darrell Wyatt February 15, 2013 | 7:26 p.m.

Enlightenment not needed from me, a walk back not needed from you. That said in the spirit of fair and respectful exchange. And a regulation of futility as it relates to political dogma.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 15, 2013 | 8:49 p.m.

Great example of 'Dog Whistle' language: "...potential for voter fraud and protect *legitimate* votes from becoming *diluted.*

And just what are "legitimate" votes vs. "dilution"? Please, do tell...

Eager and willing to pour all kinds of pollution into our environment, but fixated on the purity of that vote. A poster child for wall-brained hypocrisy.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 15, 2013 | 8:52 p.m.

It also begs the question why so many people seem simultaneously unconcerned with applying the same level scrutiny to firearms purchases.

(Report Comment)

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