JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri House gave initial approval to a measure that would require Missouri voters to show a photo ID when casting a ballot. Republicans behind the measure say the proposed legislation would help ensure election integrity. Opponents believe a photo id law would lead to voter suppression.
Prior to Wednesday’s vote, State Rep. John Simmons (R-Washington) appeared before the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials. He cited overwhelming public support for a statewide vote in 2016 to amend the constitution to require voters to present a photo ID. The Missouri Supreme Court found the way that law was written to be unconstitutional.
"It’s very concerning to me, and it should be to you, that the Missouri Supreme Court has flouted the clear intent of the people of Missouri when it comes to the common-sense expectation that people show a photo form of ID when voting,” Simmons said.
Opponents testifying against the measure included representatives from the NAACP and the ACLU. They believe the law would disproportionately affect poor individuals who lack the means to obtain a photo ID.
“It does water down the votes of persons of color because they are especially likely not to be able to renew their license on time because they have higher poverty rate in our state, three times higher,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Empower Missouri.
Some committee members disagree.
State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) said the state provides, the state takes care of any cost associated with obtaining a state ID for individuals who cannot afford to obtain one.
"When we hear the color of your skin and how much is in your bank accounts as excuses, that just doesn’t cut it,” she said. “Everyone can do it.”
Opponents argue the proposed legislation would lead to some eligible voters staying home on election day.
“We should be very disturbed at the notion of stripping away our fundamental rights away from Missouri citizens,” said Denise Lieberman, an attorney with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition.
Supporters of the bill say it would allow for anyone who shows up to the polls without a valid id to cast a provisional ballot. Opponents have concerns about how that process would work.