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Final piece of photo voter ID puzzle passes the House

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, received a standing ovation from his caucus as the House gave final approval Thursday night to HJR 53, the final piece of the photo voter ID package passed this session.

Dugger
Dugger

The resolution would amend the constitution, if approved by voters, to enact photo voter ID legislation. The previously passed HB 1631, which creates the framework of how photo voter ID would work if the resolution is approved. Both pieces of legislation were previously approved by the Senate. “I cannot imagine a better piece of legislation to close my career on,” Dugger said, who’s in his final term. While the amendment opens the door for photo voter identification, HB 1631 dictates how it is to be implemented. Under that bill, voters without a valid ID would be able to get one from the state at no cost. And if they don’t possess one when it comes time to vote, they can still vote on the regular ballot, not the provisional ballot, if they sign an affidavit saying they do not have a valid photo ID. However, Democratic opponents contend that because the framework established is statutory and not constitutional, the General Assembly could go back in to make the guidelines more restrictive. Democrats continued to push back against the bill, saying it would disenfranchise voters across the state to combat an issue, voter fraud, that they say there is no evidence of existing. “Here’s the truth. I don’t believe that anybody in this body is interested in passing this measure to disenfranchise voters. … but we know that we are opening a pandora’s box and in so doing, this opens a great threat to democracy,” said Rep. Lauren Arthur, D-North Kansas City. “Voter ID laws are part of a national movement. … I think this measure has huge implications for people’s right to vote. In my opinion the right to vote is fundamental to this country and our expression of democracy. I think this is a mistake, we have to change our constitution to allow voter ID to pass. That seems problematic to me.”

Ellington
Ellington

And Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, said it doesn’t matter if the intention was not to disenfranchise voters, but the result of the bill is what matters. “At the end of the day, intentions don’t really matter. Outcomes and that people could lose the right to vote, that’s what matters. If one person loses their right to vote, that’s an issue,” he said. “Here, there’s a real possibility that thousands of people will not be able to vote as a result of this.” But Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, said the measure wouldn’t disenfranchise voters, or he wouldn’t be voting for it. “If this was something that did not respect that part of the constitution, there is no way in hell I would be supporting this. There is no way I would be supporting this if it disenfranchised one voter. There is no way I would be supporting this if it disenfranchised people like me,” he said. “Iif we’re going to respect the integrity of our elections, then we should pass this resolution, we should send it to the voters and we should probably support it whenever it comes on the ballot.”

Dogan
Dogan

The resolution passed the House 110-39 and cannot be vetoed by the governor because it’s a resolution. After the vote, reaction came in from across the political spectrum.

“The battle to preserve the fundamental right to vote now moves to the ballot box, and House Democrats will vigorously continue the fight. Instead of protecting the integrity of our elections, this proposal would render them illegitimate by disenfranchising thousands of legal Missouri voters,” said Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, the minority floor leader. “We are confident Missourians will see HJR 53 for what it is – a blatant Republican attempt to steal future elections by excluding many opposition voters – and deliver it the crushing defeat in November that it deserves.”
The ACLU, which has been opposed the measure, also spoke out.
 
“We are disappointed the Missouri legislature made it a priority to add barriers that make it harder for eligible Missourians to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Missourians deserve more access to voting, not less,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Elections should be free, fair, and accessible to all eligible voters and we remain committed to protecting voting rights for all Missourians. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that eligible voters have their voices heard at the polls.”