Missouri House Republicans voted Thursday to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot later this year requiring photo ID at the polls, but not before Democrats bashed the proposal one last time. The plan has drawn some of the most heated debate of the legislative session. Opponents say the proposed requirement is a ploy to decrease turnout among Democratic-leaning voters. Supporters say it’s needed to ensure in-person voter impersonation fraud doesn’t take place. “The sad part of this is that people in this body think it’s a joke,” said state Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City. “They think that when we push these buttons in front of us — the red and green buttons — it has no implications.
“Then we hear people say, ‘Well, you know, everybody has an ID, everybody has a bank account,’” he said. “Well, that’s ignorance, because that shows the fact that you don’t understand the difference between a privilege and a right. It’s a privilege to have an ID.”
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office estimates that there are 220,000 registered voters in the state who lack a photo ID. Kander is a Democrat.
Critics cite studies indicating that voter impersonation fraud — lying about who you are at the ballot box — is rare and not a problem worth solving. They argue that in states with strict voter ID laws, turnout among Democratic-leaning voters has decreased.