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Missouri House Passes Photo ID Requirement For Voting

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

The Missouri House has passed two pieces of legislation that would usher in photo ID requirements for voters.

First, the House passed HJR 47, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for photo ID requirements at the polls. This proposed amendment would also need voter approval.

About 45 minutes later, the House passed House Bill 1073 to implement those requirements. During floor debate Thursday, state Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, asked HB 1073's sponsor, TonyDugger, R-Hartville, how easy it is to commit voter impersonation fraud in Missouri.

"So I could be walking down a street, walking by somebody's trash can, pick up their electric bill, go walking down the street again, hand that electric bill to you, and ask you to go vote," Houghton asked.

Dugger replied, "Yes."

Democrats argued that voter impersonation fraud is not a problem in Missouri, citing the lack of prosecutions. Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has said that the photo-ID requirement would disenfranchise more than 200,000 voters who lack drivers licenses or have expired licenses.  

State Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, also said that the bills would inadvertently create a poll tax.

"Because according to (House Bill 1073), it's 'subject upon appropriations,' (so) we're not providing free ID's," Ellington said.  "I find it ironic that Missouri*, Kentucky*, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, (and) South Carolina (were) all part of the Confederacy, and these are the same states that (are) proposing photo ID laws."

Some critics also have noted that people have to pay for the documents required to obtain drivers licenses, such as birth certificates and passports.

House Joint Resolution 47 passed 103-50, and House Bill 1073 passed 98-49.  Both votes fell along party lines.  They now go to the Missouri Senate.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's signature is not required to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. But his approval would be needed to put the implementation measure into effect. The House vote on the implementation bill was less than the 109 votes needed to override a possible Nixon veto.

Missouri lawmakers passed a photo ID requirement for voting in 2006, which was signed into law by Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, but it was later tossed out by the Missouri Supreme Court.  Another photo ID implementation bill was passed in 2011, but was later vetoed by Nixon, a Democrat. A judge tossed out a proposed constitutional amendment to allow photo IDs, which had been slated for the 2012 ballot.

*(Note:  Prior to the Civil War, Missouri and Kentucky voted to remain in the Union, but both states also had rival Confederate governments.)

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.