The Missouri House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials met Tuesday to discuss voter identification laws ahead of anticipated legislation that could be proposed later this year.
Last year, House Bill 334, which included laws requiring a photo ID, was partially struck down by the state Supreme Court because it was deemed unconstitutional.
“I expect we’ll see a similar bill next year,” Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, said at the meeting he chaired.
Shaul said he plans to take what the court said was wrong with the previous bill and fix it. He predicted that if a bill is drafted on the topic, it would pass the House. The issue is if it would pass in the Senate, he said.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft spoke at the meeting, advertising “Show It 2 Vote,” a campaign to help citizens get a photo ID if they do not have one. He claimed those without a photo ID would not be disenfranchised if there were laws passed requiring IDs for voting, saying anyone who wants an ID can get one for free.
Ashcroft also stated in a news release Monday that he believed Missouri elections were still secure but he wanted to ensure their future integrity.
Shaul pointed out that providing photo IDs would be helpful for other situations as well, like going into some government buildings.
However, Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, later spoke about the number of people who do not use a photo ID in their regular life and would have to get one specifically to vote.
“There are people who don’t bank or travel but are registered to vote,” Adams said.
Denise Lieberman, director of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, urged the committee to take the information provided at the meeting as informational. Because no bill was drafted for the hearing, the testimony Tuesday should not be binding, she said.
Shaul assured her the committee was simply gathering more thoughts from the public and would “not short-circuit the process.”
Lieberman suggested that the Missouri Constitution has more voter protection than the U.S. Constitution and encouraged the committee to uphold the state constitution by protecting voter laws, not restricting them.
She suggested that they work on making it easier for Missourians to vote by providing easy access to ballots, no-excuse absentee voting and modernizing voter registration.
Lieberman warned against creating another piece of legislation attempting to institute photo ID requirements.
“We will file a lawsuit, and it will be struck down,” Lieberman said.
Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller testified that it is much easier to counterfeit a paper registration card than a photo ID, and he supports a photo ID requirement law in order to protect the right to vote.
Robert Oaks testified the use of photo ID is more convenient and would speed up long lines at polling places. Lt. Col. David Stevens also brought up his concerns about the possible vulnerabilities in the machines used to count ballots.
Mo Del Villar, a legislative assistant for the ACLU of Missouri, told the committee that there would be 200,000 Missouri residents unable to vote if photo ID requirements were made into law. Rep. Cheri Toalson-Reisch, R-Hallsville, pushed back on that number, claiming it included dead people, prisoners and people who moved out of the state, making it an inaccurate portrayal of how many people lack a photo ID in Missouri.