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Senate panel hears House version of Voter ID

The state Senate’s Financial & Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee heard testimony on the House-passed version of a proposed law, and separate constitutional amendment, to require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

“Having served as a county clerk for 14 years, and working in the election process, I think that you have to say that there is, certainly, a potential for fraud,” Rep. Tony Dugger, R-Hartville, told the Senate committee Monday afternoon.

“And, so, I think bringing about this photo ID is the best way that I know that we could help clean up the potential fraud that’s out there.”

Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, sponsored the House-passed version of the constitutional amendment that voters would have to adopt in order to put Dugger’s bill into law.

“I think fundamental in the whole concept of photo ID is that photo identification is, sort of, the basis of what we do in modern society,” Cox explained. “Because fundamentally, if you go (to vote) on election day and have to prove who you are, we’ll have more integrity in the process.”

State Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, questioned the suggestion of voter fraud: “There has been no fraud that we know of — nothing that you guys (ID supporters) can document.”

Dugger said: “There’s lots of fraud — it may not be photo ID fraud.

“You would say there’s been some voter registration fraud, wouldn’t you? (And) if you’re going to fraudulently register to vote, wouldn’t you say that you’re probably going to use it on election day?”

But Otto Fajen, a lobbyist for the Missouri National Education Association, later told the committee: “If someone is improperly registered and they bring their photo ID, that would just confirm their ability to vote improperly.”

Cox said the proposed amendment is needed to resolve a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling that requiring a photo ID for voters violated Missourians’ constitutional right to vote.

“We’re against any legislation that could disenfranchise a single, eligible Missouri voter,” said John Scott, spokesman for new Secretary of State Jason Kander.

Adam Messer, a lobbyist for the Missouri Family Network, noted a 2012 study by the Pew Center on the States “demonstrated that approximately one out of eight active voter registrations are either inaccurate or invalid. It also demonstrates that 1.8 million voters who are listed as inactive are, actually, deceased.

“And also that 2.8 million voters are ‘active’ in more than one state.”

Messer added: “We feel very strongly ... that voter ID would be, probably, the simplest solution to addressing some of these problems.”

Cox’s proposed amendment passed the House on Feb. 14 by a 107-46 vote margin.

Dugger’s bill followed a few minutes later, passed with a 105-48 vote margin.

Except for Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, Mid-Missouri lawmakers voted for both measures.

The same Senate committee last month recommended Sen. Will Kraus’ Senate version of the bill for floor debate, but that bill has not yet been placed on the debate calendar.

“There’s no reason why we have to have both of these, basically, companion bills move,” Senate President Pro Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, told reporters Monday evening.

“If we can consider the House version ... I think we’re comfortable with looking at the House version as the vehicle for reform on voting rights.”

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