As it has done before in recent years, the state House has approved two measures aimed at requiring photo identification of voters in Missouri.
One measure passed by the House would lay out how voter photo ID would work in Missouri, the other would ask voters in 2016 whether the state Constitution should be changed so voter photo ID can become law. The bill would have no effect if voters reject the proposed amendment.
Democrats including Stacey Newman (St. Louis) say the issue is really about reducing the number of blacks and older women who can vote – she argues those are groups who have a harder time getting photo ID, and who often vote for Democrats.
“Requiring a photo ID to vote knowing that everyone doesn’t have one is just another tactic to keep voters from polls who probably aren’t voting for you,” said Newman.
The debate over the past two days in the House often grew heated, with some Democrats calling the legislation “racist.”
House Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country), took the rare, for a House Speaker, step of speaking during debate. He insisted there is good reason the legislation is needed in Missouri.
“Why is this bill necessary? It’s because the secretary of state turns a blind eye to voter fraud in this state. I’ll say it again. The secretary of state turns a blind eye to voter fraud. The prior secretary of state turned a blind eye to voter fraud,” said Diehl.
The current secretary of state, Jason Kander, and his predecessor, Robin Carnahan, are both Democrats.
Both piece of legislation now go to the Senate.
Last year similar voter ID legislation cleared the House, but Senate Republicans agreed with Democrats in that chamber not to bring it up as part of a deal that saw Senate Democrats end a filibuster holding up abortion legislation.