A late court ruling, a jumble of other legislation needing to pass, the reluctance of some Republican senators to muscle bills to passage, and an unwilling minority in the legislature means Missourians will not have to show pictures of themselves before they can vote.

Republicans have been pushing to make voters get some kind of government-approved photo-identity card that they would have to use to vote. Democrats have pushed back, complaining Republicans have never proven there is widespread fraud at the polling place.

Senate Republicans in 2006 used a parliamentary procedure to stop debate by Democrats on the last day of the session and rammed through a photo-ID law. The House quickly did the same. But the Missouri Supreme Court later ruled the law created a burden on voters by making them spend time and money to get documents needed to prove their identity for the issuance of the identity card.

The issue was not an issue this year until a Supreme Court ruling April 28th upholding Indiana’s law rekindled the matter here. A state representative, Stanley Cox of Sedalia, had introduced a bill in December but it had languished until that court ruling. The House Republicans quickly moved it to passage with eight days to go in the session.

But Senate leader Michael Gibbons says that was just too late. "If we could have gotten there, we would have," he says. Early in this year’s session, three Republicans said they would not sign petitions to cut off Senate debate, leaving majority Republicans without the muscle they needed to follow the procedure used in 2006.

Gibbons says he gave Democrats a chance to write a bill that would put an effective photo-ID bill in place for November, 2010. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, is strong against voter photo-ID and complains it could disenfranchise as many as 240,000 registered voters who would not be able to prove their citizenship. House Democrat leader Paul LeVota says the bill would have been, in effect, a solution to a non-existent problem.

In the end, eight days, when lawmakers are consumed with getting things passed that they have been working on all session, were not nearly enough time to SEARCH for middle ground on this issue, must less find it, especially without the ability for Republicans to force the issue again.

 

Download Bob Priddy’s story (:61 mp3)