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House Members Approve Voter ID Legislation (HJR 47 and HB 1073)

Two pieces of legislation approved by the House this week generated a considerable amount of discussion. The bills – one a proposed constitutional amendment and the other a statutory change – would put in place a requirement that voters must show photo identification before casting their ballots.

Many believe a photo ID requirement is the best way to protect and preserve the integrity of the voting process. They say the current system makes it too easy for fraudulent votes to be cast and that it is not too much to ask for voters to prove who they say they are at the polling place.

This is a debate that has waged on for years as the legislature has revisited this topic numerous times. A voter ID bill was actually signed into law in 2006 but ultimately was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court. This year’s plan would first give voters the opportunity to change the Missouri Constitution to allow a system of voter identification before then putting it into place with the statutory change.

To address some of the concerns of opponents, the bill provides individuals without a government-issued photo ID with access to one free of charge. To prevent the requirement from being a barrier to those who cannot obtain an ID and those born before 1941 who may not have documentation such as a birth certificate, the bill would allow these Missourians to vote by provisional ballot.

Going forward this will be an interesting issue to follow. A similar plan was approved by the House last year but ultimately died in the Senate. Already this year a Senate committee has considered similar legislation but the issue has yet to come to a vote. Over the next several weeks we will see how the talks evolve. In the meantime I am interested to hear from you on this issue. Is a photo ID the right path for our state? Or are you happy with the current voter registration laws we have here in Missouri? As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts.

It was great visiting with everyone at the NRA event Saturday evening in Perryville.

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