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Missouri officials' next step: Deciding how to pay for voter ID law

Voters cast electronic ballots at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Nov. 8, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Voters cast electronic ballots at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Nov. 8, 2016.

A majority of Missouri residents said they wanted voters to have to show a photo ID at the polls, and lawmakers obliged.

Now, state officials must figure out how to pay for the law, which goes into effect June 1.

Gov. Eric Greitens has said the budget to implement the law should be $300,000.  Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said Tuesday that it’ll cost more like $1.5 million.

Both of those are far less than the previous administration’s $4.26 million estimate, which Ashcroft said “included some things that aren’t required under the law, like sending multiple letters to every registered voter in the state of Missouri.”

Ashcroft didn’t address the disparity between his and Greitens’ proposed funding.

Credit File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Jay Ashcroft poses for a portrait in this file photo. He spoke with a House budget committee on Tuesday about the state's new voter ID law.

Voter ID laws have been put in place in several states over the past few years, including Kansas. Supporters of such laws say they protect against voter fraud, while those opposed say it disproportionately affects minorities.

Former Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander, who fought against the state’s new voter ID law, announced Tuesday that he has formed a nonprofit to address voter rights.

Kander told St. Louis Public Radio that the group was formed in response to “Republicans going into hyper-drive to suppress voting rights.”

“They don’t want people who don’t vote for them to be allowed to vote,” Kander said.


House Democrats in Tuesday’s budget committee hearing said they’re concerned that the public won’t be properly informed about the voter ID law so that all eligible voters will be able to go to the polls.

Ashcroft said that the budget for the law’s implementation will include letters and brochures for the public, but that TV commercials will be too expensive.

House Democrat Karla May raised concerns about how immobile seniors will be able to obtain their voter registration card. She said one women in her district was born in a Mississippi county where birth records were destroyed in a fire, adding, “so I’m trying to figure out how does she get her ID.”

Strict voting regulations in other states have raised concerns. Kansas lost more than 13,700 provisional ballots during the November election, according to the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. Michigan and Texas also had voter ID registration issues, but Ashcroft assured the panel that it won’t be an issue in Missouri.

He said several times that registered voters will be allowed to vote, even without proper identification, and if voters do not possess proper photo identification, it will be provided at the state’s expense.

“You may use any of the forms of identification that you’ve been able to use previously to vote,” Ashcroft says. “If you are a registered voter, if you go to your polling place on Election Day, you will be allowed to vote.”

Ashcroft also said Missouri’s law requires provisional ballots to be counted if voting conditions are met.

Jo Mannies contributed reporting.

Follow Krissy on Twitter at: @krissyrlane

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