Republican lawmakers are taking another swing at insisting Missouri voters show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. And they’re meeting fierce resistance. Leaders of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday the Republican push aims to “disenfranchise and suppress” certain voters — the disabled, the young and minorities. “This is nothing more than a modern-day poll tax,” said Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, referring to the tax implemented in some states in the late 19th century to shut out black voters. “Voting is a right. It’s not a privilege. They’re trying to turn it into a privilege.” Republicans reject the accusations, instead arguing a need to combat voter fraud.
“This is about protecting the sanctity of our vote,” said Rep. Stanley Cox, a Sedalia Republican who is sponsoring the measure. “It is certainly one of the highest principles that exist in a representative government.”
For seven years running, the party has tried to push through the new standards. Each time, the effort has been derailed by either a court ruling or Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. Kansas adopted a voter photo ID law in 2011.
Now, emboldened by new veto-proof supermajorities, Missouri Republicans tout dueling voter ID proposals making their way through both the House and Senate.
Adding fuel to an already contentious debate are two public hearings that Democrats allege were designed to limit testimony from opponents.