Election 2016: Pros and cons of Missouri’s Amendment 6, covering voter photo ID | St. Louis Public Radio

Election 2016: Pros and cons of Missouri’s Amendment 6, covering voter photo ID

Nov 2, 2016

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, St. Louis on the Air hosted a moderated conversation in the Community Room at St. Louis Public Radio about Amendments 3, 4 and 6 as well as Proposition A. This was an effort to inform voters on statewide ballot issues they would see on Nov. 8.

The second part of the conversation centered on Amendment 6, which would empower the state government to require the presentation of voter photo IDs at public elections for the purpose of identifying and proving national and state citizenship. 

We heard from one proponent and one opponent of the measure. Shamed Dogan, Missouri State Representative for District 98, represented the “pro” side of the argument. Denise Lieberman, J.D., Senior Attorney for the Advancement Project, represented the “con” side of the argument. Below, you’ll find a summary of their arguments.

Want an in-depth, objective analysis of what the amendment would do? Read this story from St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum: “Missourians to decide whether voters need government-issued photo ID at polls.

You can listen to the full conversation here:

Below, please find major “pro” and “con” arguments summarized.

PRO: Shamed Dogan wants people to vote “Yes” on Amendment 6. Here are his main points:

Shamed Dogan is a Missouri representative and a proponent of Amendment 6.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

  • Photo voter ID ensures that the person is who he or she says she is through photo identification. Right now, someone could come in to vote with someone else’s utility bill without photo verification.
  • The underlying bill that would be put in place, House Bill 1631, is one of the most generous voter photo ID laws in the country — it even allows voters who do not have the approved  photo ID to vote if they sign an affidavit at the polling station that they are who they say they are.
  • Indiana’s voter photo ID law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 because it did not present “undue burden” to voters to obtain the photo identification.
  • There is amendment to House Bill 1631 that would provide a free non-driver’s license for the purposes of voting. That same amendment would pay the cost of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, adoption certificates, name change court documents, Social Security cards and naturalization documents to those who need them to obtain the photo ID. No other state has done this.
  • If you don’t come to vote with a voter photo ID and you sign the affidavit, this would put the voter under penalty of perjury for lying about their identity while voting.
  • The constitutional amendment would not go into effect until June 1, 2017. Anyone voting in local elections before then would not need a photo ID.
  • Voters won’t be required to re-register under this amendment.

Essentially, Dogan wants people to vote “yes” on Amendment 6 because he thinks photo identification will provide a fail-safe against voter fraud. He also does not think it will cause a large burden on eligible voters without an acceptable photo ID because procuring the identification and the documents needed for such identification would be free or they could sign an affidavit.

CON: Denise Lieberman wants you to vote “no” on Amendment 6. Here are her main points:

Denise Lieberman is senior attorney for the Advancement Project and opponent of Amendment 6.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

  • This amendment waters down the right to vote that is written into the United States Constitution because it would allow lawmakers to implement restrictive voter ID laws that would make it hard to cast a ballot. It would be discriminatory because it disproportionately affects voters of color, seniors, people with disabilities and young voters. It would create confusion, hurdles and long lines at polling places.
  • It would cost $17 million to implement the amendment as-is with more costs over time. And there is no money currently in the Missouri budget for implementation. There will be no other budget approved until May 2017. Voters would need photo identification to vote in June 2017 elections.
  • There is nothing to stop lawmakers from deciding that the amendment to House Bill 1631 that would pay for implementation is unworkable and remove it next year, causing a burden for voters in the state. This is similar to what happened in North Carolina, where the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state to allow its controversial voting rights law to go back into effect.
  • Missouri law already requires valid voter identification to vote at the polls. This would limit that identification to what you could procure at the DMV.
  • There are currently 220,000 people in Missouri who are currently eligible to vote but who lack a DMV-issued photo identification. There are another 130,000 people in Missouri who have photo identification that is expired and could not be used.
  • Many people don’t have certified copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, adoption certificates, name change court documents, Social Security cards and naturalization documents that would be needed to obtain a DMV-issued photo ID. Others have incorrect information on those documents that could not be verified, creating a bureaucratic rabbit hole for voters to fall into. There are also people who were never issued these documents in the first place.
  • In 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the state’s then-photo voter ID law infringed on the fundamental right to vote.
  • There is no evidence that widespread fraud by voters pretending to be someone else happens at the polls. This is the only thing the legislation would address.

Essentially, Lieberman wants people to vote “no” on Amendment 6 because it makes it harder for eligible voters to cast a ballot in the state of Missouri and disproportionately impacts people of color, seniors, people with disabilities and young voters. The lack of funding is also a concern.

Want to read more pro/cons about Missouri ballot measures? Read these perspectives about Constitutional Amendment 4. 

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.