Missouri’s Republican House Speaker and the House Elections Committee chair are disappointed that the GOP-controlled Senate did not approve legislation on voter ID and initiative petition reform this session. The 2021 session ended Friday evening in Jefferson City.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) tells Missourinet that he’ll review House Elections and Elected Officials Committee Chairman Dan Shaul’s request that the governor call a special session.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to the Chairman Shaul about his letter about what he’s requested. I will look into that,” Vescovo says.
The Missouri House gave final approval in late March to House Bill 738, which requires a photo ID and the use of a paper ballot. The legislation also repealed mail-in voting provisions that were allowed in 2020, during the COVID pandemic. Shaul says the bill is necessary to ensure that Missouri’s elections remain fair and transparent.
Shaul (R-Imperial) is also worried about mass mail-in voting.
The Speaker praises the work of Chairman Shaul and the committee’s vice-chair, State Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton).
“It’s another disappointing loss for our (Missouri House GOP) Caucus and for the chairman of that committee who’s put in, and the vice chairwoman of that committee, who’s put in a lot of work on that issue. So, (it’s) disappointing to say the least,” says Vescovo.
The House approved HB 738 by a 109-48 vote, a vote that was primarily along party lines.
House Democrats are critical of a photo ID requirement, with State Rep. Joe Adams (D-University City) telling colleagues in March that the provision is “despicable.” Representative Adams, who serves on the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee, blasted Republicans during that floor speech, saying the bill would disenfranchise voters.
Adams says voter ID is trying to fix a problem that does not exist. The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition is also opposed to the provision, saying it would erect barriers to the ballot for thousands of eligible Missouri voters.
The Missouri House received more than 50 pages of written testimony this year, about HB 738. Bill supporters, such as Debby Jones, say voter ID would stop fraud and would ensure an accurate vote count.
HB 738 would also have repealed electronic voting language, with the exception of voting equipment used by disabled residents. It also would have allowed no-excuse absentee voting starting the third Tuesday before an election, with photo identification.
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