February 11, 2016

House advances voter photo ID bill, constitutional change

The state House is one vote away from sending the Senate a voter photo ID bill and the change in the state constitution that would allow it to become law.

Representatives Tony Dugger and Stanley Cox (photos courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.)

Representatives Tony Dugger and Stanley Cox (photos courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.)

House lawmakers’ emotions ran the gamut during hours of debate on Wednesday. Democrats say passing the measures into law would disenfranchise about 250,000 Missouri voters including minorities, the elderly, women and the military.

Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) made an emotional argument against the proposals.

“Jim Crow is alive in this room today. This is the single most immoral act that I’ve ever seen happen in my time in the general assembly.”

The legislation laying out how voter photo ID would work, sponsored by Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville), was advanced 106-48. A proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Representative Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) to make the requirement for voter photo ID was perfected 108-46. Two Democrats, Vicki Englund (St. Louis) and Ira Anders (Independence) who voted against the bill voted for the proposed amendment. If both pass the legislature, the latter would go before Missouri voters.

Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis County) said those who voted yes would have to answer to constituents.

“Every one of you will have constituents who will have their constitutional right to vote taken from them with this bill. I envy you even less going home and explaining it to your families, your children, your grandchildren. Most of all I don’t envy you having to explain it to your maker when you meet your maker.”

Representative Noel Torpey (R-Independence) responded to Montecillo’s comment.

“If I’m going to hell, it’s not because of the vote I take today.”

Republicans say the law won’t disenfranchise anyone and will prevent voter fraud. It exempts anyone 65 and older and allows those who come to a polling place without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot.

A vote to pass the legislation out of the House is expected to take place today.