This year’s version of voter photo identification legislation has been debated in a House committee.
Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) proposes requiring a person seeking to vote in Missouri to present one among certain forms of photo ID, including unexpired Missouri driver’s or nondriver’s licenses, a document with the individual’s name and photograph, or any unexpired armed services ID with a photo.
His bill would allow those who cannot pay for a birth certificate or other documentation needed to get such an ID, those with religious objections, or those born before 1950, to cast a provisional ballot. That ballot would only be counted if the voter returns with a sufficient form of identification within three days after the election.
Voter photo ID proposals have been offered in the Missouri legislature for a decade. Opponents say they are an attempt to disenfranchise voting groups that often lean Democratic, including students and minorities, who are less likely to meet the ID requirements it would establish.
Dugger said he is not trying to keep anyone who is eligible to vote from doing so. He told the House Committee on Elections he just wants to protect Missouri elections.
“I am 100-percent sure that voter impersonation fraud is taking place in the state of Missouri
and I think this photo ID is the only way that we can fix it,” Dugger said.
Representative Clem Smith (D-St. Louis County) told Dugger the fact that the bill hasn’t passed in ten years of attempts should tell him something.
“I would think in ten years you would have had the streets in turmoil, people demonstrating and protesting about this issue if it was major issue, which it’s really a non-issue,” Smith told Dugger. “It’s just a hindrance for me to vote.”
Opponents maintain there has been no proof that voter identification fraud has occurred in Missouri, but Dugger told the committee he found one such case. He said a woman learned that someone had already voted in her name in the November 2012, and that prevented her from voting in that election.
Representative Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights) was skeptical.
“Was that case documented? Was that case prosecuted?” Newman asked.
Dugger told Newman the lack of documented cases of fraud is not evidence of a lack of fraud, but of the difficulty in investigating it.
“Tell me how you’re going to prosecute that case,” Dugger responded. “How are you going to track down that voter who came in with that material?”
Dugger is proposing HB 30 which would lay out in statute how photo ID would be implemented in Missouri, and HJR 1, which would ask Missouri voters to allow that language to become law. If the latter were to make it to voters and be rejected, the photo ID language of HB 30 would be null.