Missouri Republicans have been trying to enact a voter ID law for more than a decade. Tuesday they overcame a major hurdle, striking a deal with Senate Democrats that ended a filibuster and paved the way for voters to decide whether to amend Missouri’s constitution to allow the state to require a photo ID before casting a ballot. The Missouri Senate voted 24-8 to approve voter ID legislation. A second voter ID bill amending the state’s constitution is expected to be approved later this week. “For 10 years we’ve gotten nothing,” said Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican who has sponsored the voter ID bills for several years. “This is an historic step forward.” The voter ID issue has threatened to derail the legislative session for months. Democrats had vowed to block the measure, which they argued could disenfranchise thousands of Missouri voters. Until this week, they had made good on that promise.
But adjournment looms next Friday, and Republican Senate leadership had already demonstrated that they are willing to use parliamentary maneuvers to quash a filibuster and force a vote without any concessions to Democrats. So after years of gridlock on the issue, the two sides struck a compromise.
Under current law, voters are required to sign in when they seek to cast a ballot and attest that they are who they say they are. They must also provide some form of ID, but the list of acceptable IDs includes some without a photo, such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
The legislation passed Tuesday would still allow someone to cast a ballot using a non-photo ID. That voter would be required to sign a statement attesting to their identity under penalty of perjury. The statement would also inform the voter that they are required to get a government-issued photo ID and that the state will cover the cost of obtaining that ID, as well as the cost of gathering underlying documents needed to get it, such as a birth certificate.