General Assembly Passes Voter ID Requirements
Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, says the photo identification requirement is warranted.
Voters could be prompted to show photo identification at the polls under a proposal that the Missouri General Assembly passed earlier this month.
The legislature passed two measures in May that would prompt Missourians to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. The first is a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to enact the requirement. That amendment requires voter approval.
The second piece of legislation is a statutory change that would put the photo identification requirement into effect.
According to the enabling bill's summary, a voter could cast a provisional ballot if they were born before January 1, 1941, have a physical or mental disability, have a religious belief against forms of identification or cannot pay for a document necessary to obtain the required identification. An election authority would have to verify the identity of that individual by comparing a signature to what’s on file with an election authority.
Both measures would also authorize an early voting period. Under the bill, voters could cast ballots starting on the third Saturday preceding an election. That period – which excludes Sundays -- would end on the Tuesday immediately leading up to an election.
Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, said in her latest Capitol Report she supports the requirements. She voted for both the constitutional amendment and the enabling legislation when they went through the Missouri House.
“Many people throughout our nation’s history have spent their lives fighting for the right to vote,” Haefner said. “To continue to allow liberal voting regulations can only result in a loss of integrity of the entire system and denies the right to have your vote counted.”
“If we have an opposing view, if I vote once and you vote twice, my vote did not count,” Haefner added. “We want everyone to have the right to vote [and] ensure that everyone only casts one ballot. [The two measures passed by the legislature] accomplish this goal.”
But opponents of the legislation – primarily Democrats – say there haven’t been cases of voter impersonation fraud at the polls. And Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said the poor and elderly could have trouble obtaining photo identification.
“The voter ID legislation disenfranchises so many people for whom getting access to a photo ID is difficult,” said Schupp, who added that while the bill may pay for the actual identification, going to get the ID could be difficult to the poor and elderly.
Schupp said she would like Gov. Jay Nixon to veto the enabling legislation, adding that she thought “you’ll see a lot of Democrats encouraging him to do that.”
The bill's sponsor - Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton - said if Nixon vetoes the enabling bill and the constitutional amendment passes, then it is unlikely subsequent legislation would include early voting.
If voters fail to approve the constitutional amendment, then the enabling bill will have no effect on current law. That’s because the constitutional amendment is needed in response to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that declared a previous voter identification law unconstitutional.