by Meghan Boggess
After two days of heated debate, Missouri’s House sent two measures to the Senate that would require voters to show photo identification to cast a ballot.
The House voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would let Missouri voters decide if the state’s Constitution should be changed to allow state lawmakers to require a government-issued photo identification to vote. State representatives also backed legislation that would actually require the use of such identification if voters approve the constitutional amendment in 2014.
Supporters of the measures said they protect Missourians’ fundamental right to vote. During the House’s debate, House Judiciary Chair Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said the proposal does not require anything else of citizens that they are not already required to prove in many areas of their lives.
“When you come to the fundamental right to cast a vote, and to be protected from fraud, we should expect nothing less,” said Cox, who sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment. “This is a common sense solution to a real problem.”
Opponents of the proposals argued that the measures are being pushed to prevent seniors, veterans, minorities and low-income Missourians from voting for Democrats. Democratic representatives challenged supporters during Thursday’s debate to present them with cases of actual voter fraud.
“The proponents are yet to articulate the first concrete example of voter identification fraud in the state of Missouri,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia.
Members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus said they were denied the opportunity to speak during the debate. One caucus member, Rep. Steve Webb, D-Florissant, said voter fraud is not a problem in Missouri.
“This bill isn’t going to do anything to fix any problems because there are no problems,” Webb said.