Republicans look to open door for new Voter ID laws

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House gave initial approval to a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters on the ballot, would open the door for lawmakers to establish strict requirements that voters present valid photo ID’s in state elections.

Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, is managing HJR1, which would amend the state constitution and HB 30, the accompanying legislation establishing new voter ID laws. Dugger has offered the legislation for several years, and the House has frequently debated the issue.

Dugger said he was offering the bill to “protect the integrity of Missouri elections,” and said his legislation is designed to make it as easy as possible to acquire an ID.

“This is protecting people’s right to vote to ensure that busloads of people don’t come in to steal their vote,” Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said.

Democrats opposing the measure likened the bill to poll taxes and said it would unfairly target elderly and minority voters.

“Voter ID solves no problem because there is no voter impersonation in Missouri,” Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat, said on the floor. “There is no Missouri voter impersonation fraud. Believing in the world is flat doesn’t make it so.”

The Missouri House has effectively moved voter ID laws through their own chamber with relative ease thanks to a massive supermajority. After a lengthy floor debate that included more than a few clashes between members, Republicans approved HJR 1, leaving only a single formal vote to move the measure to the Senate.

It is in the Senate where the fate will ultimately be decided. Several Democratic senators including Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, have promised a lengthy filibuster of any measure, and in 2014, Democrats in the senate successfully negotiated killing a voter ID measure in the chamber in exchange for advancing a Republican anti-abortion measure.

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