Missouri House passes voter photo ID
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Republican-led Missouri House on Wednesday passed another bill to require voter photo identification at the polls, an attempt to reinstate the policy after it was gutted by the state Supreme Court.
House lawmakers voted 109-46 to send the bill to the GOP-led state Senate.
The bill is aimed at addressing a Missouri Supreme Court ruling last year that permanently blocked a central provision of a 2016 voter ID law.
At issue was a provision of the law that law required voters without a photo ID to make a sworn statement to cast a regular ballot.
The new bill would give voters two options: either show a photo ID to cast a regular ballot or cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot would be counted if the voter returns later that day with a photo ID or if election officials can verify their signature based on voter records.
Republican supporters argued photo identification at the polls is needed to prevent in-person voter fraud, which studies have shown is very rare. Bill sponsor Rep. John Simmons, a Washington Republican, said in-person voter fraud would “cancel out” legal votes, which he described as disenfranchisement.
Democrats generally oppose voter photo ID laws, arguing that they are really meant to disenfranchise voter groups that tend to support their party, including the poor, elderly and disabled as well as transient college students and minorities who are less likely to have photo IDs.
Missouri lawmakers on Monday voted down a Republican-sponsored amendment that would have required the state to pay for photo IDs and any other documents needed to get photo IDs in order for the voting requirement to take effect.
Without that change, some lawmakers have said the measure would create a poll tax, meaning a fee to vote. Poll taxes were historically used to prevent Black Americans from voting.
“This bill is a disenfranchisement bill,” St. Louis Democratic Rep. Joe Adams said Wednesday. “It is a bill to create a poll tax. It is a bill to discriminate.”
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