On Nov. 7, 2000, hundreds of St. Louis voters were unable to practice that most cherished of constitutional sacraments. They were turned away from the ballot box, told their names had been placed on the city’s list of inactive voters.
House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, calls that incident pivotal in two of his recent decisions — his introduction of legislation to require voter identification and to run for Missouri Secretary of State. “I think that’s when I began to understand the importance of having a secretary of state who truly wants to make sure your elections are fair and honest,” Schoeller said Friday during a stop in Cape Girardeau.
The Missouri House as a whole endorsed his plan for voter IDs last week, giving first-round approval by a 104-54 margin that was along strict party lines. Missouri voters will decide whether Schoeller is the best candidate to replace Democrat Robin Carnahan, who said last September she would not seek a third term. Schoeller hopes to take on Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, for the job. But two other Republicans want it too — state senators Bill Stouffer and Scott Rupp.
Politicians in Missouri have been debating the need for a voter ID requirement for decades and this is the seventh time in eight years it has been brought up in the legislature.