JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – For the third time this session, Senate Democrats stalled a vote on photo voter ID legislation sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit.
The Wednesday night filibuster on HB 1631, authored by Rep. Justin Alferman, stretched to about 1 a.m. early Thursday until the chamber went to an “at rest” period, and the Senate adjourned just an hour later for the day.
At a press conference Thursday, Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, voiced his frustration at the Democratic stonewalling, but he remains confident that Republicans will get the bill passed this session despite strong opposition.
“The effort of trying to get this done and working with the minority party is there,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said that he, Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, and Minority Floor Leader Joe Keaveny have had long discussions on the future of the legislation Wednesday night and even Thursday morning before session began. Richard noted that the possibility of a previous question motion, which gummed up the Senate in the last week of the 2015 session due to Democratic outrage, was an option, but that Republicans were not ready to pull the trigger on that option.
The other alternative he says is that the bill probably does not pass.
“I’d like to finish that before we leave in two weeks, but apparently it’s going to be a little bit tougher than I thought,” he said on the legislation.
Democrats have stated their opposition to legislation this session before, staging another filibuster against SJR 39, a religious liberties bill offered by Sen. Bob Onder, and stalling debate on other bills as well. They appear more than willing to put their foot down again on photo voter ID as they have owned the floor each time it has been brought before the body which has totaled 13 hours of debate.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, occupied the floor for much of the debate. She believes the measure is discriminatory in nature because the acquisition of new IDs would disproportionately affect minorities in urban areas, women and the elderly. She alleges Senate Republicans are part of a nationwide conservative movement intent on “suppressing the votes [and] disenfranchising groups of individuals that tend to vote for Democrats.”
“This is about weakening the Democratic Party, and we know it,” she said during her filibuster.
She also cited that voter impersonation, the main form of photo fraud a photo voter ID would combat, simply did not happen in the state of Missouri.
Kraus, a candidate for Secretary of State, rejects those claims and argues that the bill is necessary to ensure voting rights and fair elections. He cited an example on the floor in an inquiry from Nasheed which happened in Jackson County in 2012 where a woman was turned away because someone had already voted for her. He posited that voter impersonation was underreported because it is difficult to prove.
“How do you catch that person that impersonated her?” he asked rhetorically at Thursday’s press conference. “How would you catch someone that’s impersonating someone right now? If they don’t show an ID, how can you catch them?”
Kraus also argues the fiscal note of $10 million on the bill is “highly exaggerated” as it is based on assumptions that around 50 percent of the 200,000 Missourians without a valid photo voter ID would try to immediately acquire one. He believes that number would be much lower.
“I believe this wouldn’t cost more than $10,000,” he said.