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Missouri House passes bill to put photo voter ID requirement on ballot as constitutional amendment

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
File photo I Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Two pieces of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls have been passed by the Missouri House and are on their way to the Senate.

The first, House Joint Resolution 53, is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for a photo ID requirement, following the Missouri Supreme Court's 2006 decision tossing out an earlier photo ID law passed that same year. It's sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, who has sponsored several photo ID proposals in recent years.

The second, House Bill 1631, would implement the requirement if voters were to pass the amendment.  It's sponsored by Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann.

"Elections are the purest form of participation in the political process that we have in Missouri," Alferman said. "We need to make sure that our elections are held to the highest standards."

House Democrats, including Judy Morgan, D-Kansas City, strongly argued that requiring photo IDs at the polls would disenfranchise several groups of voters, including the elderly, minorities, women and the disabled.  

"We're a country founded on the principle of equality, (and) the voting booth is a (place) when we are all equal and have the same singular vote to cast," Morgan said. "Photo ID is a solution in search of a problem, it's fatally flawed, (and) it adds an additional unneeded burden to Missouri voters."

If it becomes law, Missouri voters would have to show one of the following forms of identification:

  • A non-expired Missouri driver's license
  • A non-expired Missouri non-driver's license ID card
  • Any other non-expired document issued by the state of Missouri or the U.S. government that contains a photograph of the person in question, such as a military ID or a U.S. passport

Anyone who wants to vote and does not have one of the approved forms of photo identification would have to vote using a provisional ballot, which would only be counted if that person returns within three days with a valid form of ID under the proposed law.
The fiscal note for HB 1631 is officially listed as "$0, or less than $10,741,269."  The nature of the cost was briefly debated Thursday by Alferman and fellow Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis.

Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, speaks against the voter ID requirements as presented.
Credit Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications
Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, speaks against the voter ID requirements as presented.

"The fiscal note is $10.7 million in year one," Alferman said, "(but it) has numbers that are used from the secretary of state's office from 2009 that have not been updated in almost seven years."

"(So) we'll have less voters seven years later?" Colona asked.

Alferman answered, "No, you would have less people that don't have identification."

Colona shot back, "(so) we'd have more voters, which means that the liability to the state is greater."

The implementing legislation passed 114-39 and the measure to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot passed 116-40, both strictly along party lines and with veto-proof majorities. The two had received first-round approval from the House on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hearings were conducted earlier this week on the Senate versions of the two measures.  Senate Bill 594 and SJR 20 are both sponsored by Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, who's also seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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