A Missouri Senate committee heard testimony Monday on the latest effort by Republicans to require voters to show photo identification at the polls.
The proposal comes in two pieces of legislation: Senate Joint Resolution 31 would amend the state constitution to allow for photo ID requirements at the polls, and Senate Bill 511 would implement those requirements.
The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus is speaking out against legislation in both the House and Senate that would require voters to show photo ID’s at the polls.
In each chamber there are proposed constitutional amendments that would allow for photo ID requirements, along with accompanying bills that would enact the proposed requirements -- HB 48 and HJR 1 in the Missouri House, and SB 27 and SJR 6 in the Missouri Senate. State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis) chairs the caucus. She and other caucus members say Republicans are trying to suppress the voting rights of minorities, the disabled, the poor and elderly.
Republicans in the Missouri House are making another attempt to pass legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.
No one testified in favor of the proposal at a House hearing today -- everyone who testified either opposed requiring photo ID’s for voting or were neutral and speaking for informational purposes only. In addition to mandating photo identification, House Bill 48 would allow anyone who does not have a photo ID to vote with a provisional ballot, which would not be counted until the voter’s identity is verified. John Scott with the Secretary of State’s office told the House Committee on Elections that Missouri voters would still be disenfranchised.
The ballot measure was passed last year by the General Assembly and is scheduled to go before Missouri voters in November. If approved, it would clear the way for lawmakers to pass enabling legislation to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Tony Rothert is an attorney with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. He calls the ballot measure misleading.
House leaders had intended to hold a first-round vote on the measure Monday, but it was delayed because of the large number of Democrats who spoke against the bill. Joe Aull (D, Marshall) used former Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton (D) as an example of how he says some elderly citizens could be disenfranchised by the bill. Aull says Skelton attempted to get a photo ID for himself after the 2006 voter ID law was passed, but he was turned down.
Voters who don’t have a photo ID would be required to use provisional ballots, which would be counted once their identities are correctly verified. It passed 7 to 3 on a straight party line vote, with every Republican on the House Elections Committee voting “yes” and every Democrat voting “no.” The sponsor, House Speaker Pro-tem Shane Schoeller (R, Willard), says the bill shouldn’t be divisive.