There is a variety of origin stories for why Missouri is known as “the Show-Me State.” But if Republicans in the state legislature get their way, it could take on new meaning for voters headed to the polls—as in, “Show me your photo ID.” The state senate, which is overwhelmingly Republican, is considering a double-barreled proposal. One part is a joint resolution that would place a ballot measure before voters to create a constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo identification to vote. The other part governs how the requirement would be enforced if approved; in particular, it would require the legislature to fund programs to help get voters who don’t have some form of ID a card. If there’s no money, the requirement wouldn’t go into effect. The House already passed both halves in January. Senate Republicans brought the issue up Wednesday, but Democrats filibustered until 2 a.m., and the issue was temporarily set aside. Democrats have repeatedly obstructed attempts to pass the measures. Republicans are expected to bring it up again before the end of the session on May 13, and may use procedural measures to try to end the Democratic filibuster. If they succeed, Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, could veto the the bill, but his veto would likely be overridden. He can’t veto the joint resolution.
Missouri is one of several states to bring up tighter voting-related laws over the last few years. The bill under consideration is one of the stricter laws to come up since North Carolina passed a passel of rules to tighten voting regulations in 2013, including shortening early voting, eliminating same-day registration, and a photo-ID requirement. That law, in turn, has been described as the nation’s strictest since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder eliminated a requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination pre-clear new voting laws with the Department of Justice, which had effectively blocked most stricter laws. The North Carolina law is subject to a court challenge. A federal judge on Monday ruled against plaintiffs challenging the law, but the decision has already been appealed, and the Fourth Circuit said Thursday it would expedite the case. Many experts expect the Supreme Court to have the final say.
The arguments in Missouri are familiar from North Carolina and elsewhere: Republicans argue that voter-ID laws are essential to preserve the sanctity of elections, lest fraudulent votes be cast. Besides, they say, state-issued photo ID is required for a range of normal activities, like driving a car. Is it really so much to ask people to produce one before they vote?
Democrats and other advocates respond that such laws are simply tools of voter suppression. They point out that there are next to no documented cases of voter fraud, and describe bills like this as a solution in search of a problem. They also note that driving a car, unlike voting, is not a fundamental right, and point to the fact that studies have shown that such laws are most likely to affect poor, young, and minority voters. (For example, Missouri’s changes would exclude photo ID from state universities.) It’s no coincidence, they say, that those are blocs that overwhelmingly vote Democratic.
Full Article: The Voter-ID Fight in Missouri – The Atlantic.