The state House has given initial approval to legislation aimed at requiring voters in Missouri to have photo identification at the polls on election day.
One piece is a proposed change to the state Constitution that would allow the other piece, the voter photo ID bill, to become law. The legislature passed such a requirement several years ago but it was ruled unconstitutional, which is why supporters want to now change the Constitution to allow it to become law. The fact that such a change would be necessary is one of the arguments made by opponents against its passage.
Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) told a Republican supporter of the legislation it is based on false arguments.
“The real purpose of this is to keep older black women from voting, but your purpose is to cure voter impersonation fraud.”
As Democrats have done in years past, Kelly challenged Republicans to provide evidence of at least one case of voter identification fraud having happened in Missouri. They did not offer such evidence.
Democrats argue that many older black women for various reasons might not be able to obtain the source documents needed for them to acquire photo IDs.
Representative Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) says that argument is insulting to such women.
Engler tells a fellow Republican, “For these districts’ [representatives] in urban and the St. Louis area to say their women are too dumb … they can’t get IDs, ‘They’re smart enough to decide whether to have an abortion or not. We want them to have that decision, but they’re not smart enough to get an ID.’ How callous is that?”
Another favorable vote will send the voter photo ID proposals to the Senate. The proposed constitutional change would require voter approval if it clears the legislature.