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Secretary of state hopeful gets campaign help

Republican Missouri secretary of state candidate Shane Schoeller got a boost Wednesday from a fellow Republican from Mississippi, who said photo identification requirements for voters are important to preserving the integrity of elections.

Schoeller has made implementing a Missouri photo ID requirement a central theme of his campaign. On Wednesday, Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi’s secretary of state, echoed Shoeller’s push.

Mississippi voters in 2011 approved a state constitutional amendment dealing with a voter photo ID requirement, and legislators passed a measure earlier this year to put the requirement into law. However, the state is among those that need federal approval before making election changes, and the photo ID requirement will not be in place this year.

Currently Missouri voters can show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID, but state law also allows them to provide documents that do not contain photographs, such as copies of utility bills or bank statements listing their names and addresses. Debates have persisted for years about whether to require a government-issued photo ID for voting. The Republican-led Legislature has pushed for the requirement, and the Democratic-led secretary of state’s office has opposed it.

Proponents of voter ID laws say they are an extra layer of protection against voter fraud, though opponents argue they are designed to suppress voter turnout.

Schoeller, a state lawmaker from Willard, rejected concerns from critics about the fairness of a photo ID requirement. He said photo IDs are needed in everyday life, for tasks such as for renting videos or boarding airplanes.

“I don’t think when anybody asks you at the bank for a photo ID you look at the person across the way, and you say: ‘That’s extreme, that’s unfair,’” Schoeller said. “Normally, I thank them because I know they’re trying to protect my hard-earned dollars. Now, I want to make sure we protect your vote.”

Jason Kander, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, said Missouri’s recent photo ID proposals have been “extreme and unfair.” As an alternative, he has pointed to an Idaho policy that allows voters who do not bring a required photo ID to sign a sworn affidavit and then cast a standard ballot.

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