Voters should have the chance to decide this year whether the state can require photo identification at polling places, Republican leaders from the House and Senate said Thursday.
The Republican-led House voted on Thursday to send a pair of measures to the Senate that could require voters to show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.
One of the measures is a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the voting requirement. Lawmakers need to amend the state constitution because the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a 2006 photo ID law.
The House also passed a bill with specific details of how the requirement would work. That measure would only take effect if voters approved the constitutional change at the November election.
But Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said after the House vote that he was only interested in working on the constitutional amendment this year and saving the details for later.
"We want to see if the people of the state want that in the Missouri Constitution and then if they do then we would have the discussion about how to implement it," said Dempsey, R-St. Charles.
House Republicans said the legislation would prevent fraud and make sure elections are conducted fairly. But Democrats oppose the requirement, saying it would disenfranchise voters who cannot obtain the proper ID.
"We are making it harder for currently eligible voters to vote," said Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis. "They can't get the underlying documents that allow them to get a state-issued ID."
The bill would let people obtain one government-issued ID free of charge. Voters who can't afford an ID or those born before 1941 could cast a provisional ballot. People unable to afford the source documents, such as a birth certificate, that are used to get a state-issued ID could also cast a provisional ballot. The signature on the provisional ballot would need to match the signature on the voter's registration in order for the ballot to be counted.
Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, has estimated that 220,000 registered voters don't currently have a government-issued ID card.
Voter Identification is HJR 47 and HB 1073