For 15 years, Missouri lawmakers have attempted to implement discriminatory photo ID requirements to vote in Missouri. Since 2006, there have been three lawsuits challenging photo ID requirements in Missouri. As recently as last year, the Missouri Supreme Court made clear that such a measure would violate Missourians’ right to vote.
Despite these previous attempts at strict voter photo ID being struck down by the courts, the Missouri House of Representatives just passed HB334, which would add unconstitutional, burdensome and unnecessary voter ID restrictions that undermine Missourians’ right to vote.
Data shows that requiring a current state-issued photo ID would disproportionately affect voters of color, seniors, voters with disabilities, young voters and low wage workers. (Editor’s note: Testimony from the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition in opposition to the bill cited a 2017 analysis by the Secretary of State’s office about voter ID and the number of people registered who did not have a state-issued ID.)
HCS HB 334 would require voters to present a non-expired photo ID issued by the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles, or current U.S. Passport or military ID to vote in Missouri. To obtain a photo ID, the voter must pay a fee to the DMV and provide certain documents from other county and state offices, which also charge fees. This is a form of a poll tax.
Other IDs currently accepted would be eliminated, including “Option 2” or non-photo ID options currently allowed, such as a voter registration card issued by the election authority or a Missouri student ID. Even more egregious, this legislation removes the Secretary of State’s obligation to provide advance notice of voter ID requirements to voters.
In the midst of a deadly pandemic without the ongoing protections of Missouri’s expired COVID-19 voting provisions, Missouri lawmakers should focus on making voting more accessible rather than again continue to promulgate unnecessary, expensive and unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote in Missouri.
The bill now goes to the Missouri Senate, which recently heard a photo ID proposal, SB 282. We encourage you to contact Sen. Caleb Rowden, the state senator representing Boone and Cooper counties. He is also the Missouri Senate Majority Floor Leader. Ask him to vote no on any strict voter ID legislation. His Capitol office phone number is 751-3931.
Marilyn McLeod is president of the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County.