The question of whether voters should have to carry a photo ID to the polls could be decided on the ballot in 2014. The Missouri House on Thursday approved measures to require photo identification, but the changes to the state’s constitution require approval by voters. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said he would like to put the issue to a vote of the people. Proponents of a requirement that voters present a photo ID or cast a provisional ballot argue it will increase the integrity of the election process. Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, sponsored the constitutional amendment. “We deserve the protection of photo identification at the moment the vote is cast,” Cox said. But opponents point out there has not been a documented case of voter impersonation fraud in Missouri in years.
They insist that the measure would create an obstacle to voting, particularly for some traditionally Democratic supporters. Accusations of racism and comparisons to a poll tax and literacy test were brought up during House debate on Tuesday. Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, said the intent of these efforts was clear.
“It’s not about purifying the voting process, it’s about purging some people from being able to vote,” Ellington said.
Opponents also said it would be too costly for some to gather the documents needed to get a photo ID they don’t currently have. Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, estimates that 220,000 registered voters would not have the necessary identification. Kander opposes the bill.