JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — By a 112-38 vote, the House truly agreed to and finally passed HB 1631, which would provide the framework to implement photo voter ID. The Senate amended the legislation earlier this week as part of a compromise to allow it to come to a vote after several attempts to pass the legislation were filibustered.
The compromise allows voters who do not have photo voter ID to sign an affidavit saying that they do not possess an ID as required by the law. They would then be able to vote using a regular ballot. If they do not sign the affidavit, they would cast a provisional ballot.
“What this bill is, is actually the most generous photo voter id bill that this country has seen, especially the way this bill has been amended by the Senate,” said Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin. “We are helping people who are marginalized, people who are not able to do things right now, by giving them a free ID.”
The bill states that any person who does not have a photo ID can be provided one free of charge. The bill also allows documents that needed for those IDs to be provided for free, including birth certificates.
Democrats in the chamber continued their argument that the photo voter ID requirement would disenfranchise voters, especially poor and minority voters.
“You want to say there is nothing disc. About the bill — the bill in itself is inherently discriminatory,” said Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis. “The right to vote is a right. It has nothing to do with banking. It has nothing to do with anything else because there is nothing in those other instances where you have to present an ID to vote.”
But Dogan found those arguments by Democrats offensive.
“There’s nothing discriminatory in this house bill. To insinuate that is to impugn the character of everyone who has voted on this bill in the past and will vote on it today,” he said. “The idea that this is somehow disenfranchisement, we’ve heard that word cavalierly thrown around in voter ID debates, but MR. Speaker what we saw in St. Louis County in April, that is disenfranchisement.”
For the legislation to take effect, a constitutional amendment allowing for photo voter ID must first be passed. Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, expressed concern that once the constitution is changed it, the legislature could pass more restrictive statutory changes that go further than HB 1631.
Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, followed those concerns with her own about changing the state’s constitution to allow for photo voter ID.
“The problem is, for this to even be legal, for this to even go into effect, we still need a constitutional amendment changing our constitution,” she said. “The voters have to actually vote to take that right of suffrage out of our constitution for anything in this bill to be legal. And that’s a very very serious thing for this body to do.”