People would have to prove they are U.S. citizens when they register to vote under a proposal approved by a Missouri House committee last week. But some of the bill’s most controversial provisions were stripped out after criticism emerged that they could make it more difficult for members of the military serving oversees to cast a ballot. Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, a Willard Republican, painted the legislation as another attempt at preventing voter fraud. He sponsored legislation earlier this year that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, a bill that has cleared the House but has languished in the Missouri Senate. The legislation would require anyone wishing to register to vote to provide documentation — a birth certificate, passport or other document — that would show they are a U.S. citizen. It’s nearly identical to legislation passed last year in Kansas that was written by Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Schoeller, who is running for the Republican nomination for Missouri secretary of state, was endorsed last month by Kobach, who has written some of the nation’s toughest and most controversial immigration laws. Vanessa Crawford, executive director of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, said passing Schoeller’s proposal would be a mistake, as it has the potential to disenfranchise naturalized citizens.Because they don’t have a U.S. birth certificate, naturalized citizens would have to present either a passport, a naturalization certificate or a certificate of citizenship, Crawford said.