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Senate again mulls photo-ID requirements for voters

Senate again mulls photo-ID requirements for voters

Kander claims measure would disenfranchise 220,000 voters

January 28th, 2014 in News

Calling it "a small issue," state Sen. Will Kraus on Monday asked colleagues to approve a proposed constitutional amendment and the enabling legislation that "would allow the General Assembly to (write) statutes that would require photo-ID."

The proposed law defines the proper identification as "a non-expired driver's license, a non-expired non-driver's license, another identification by the Missouri National Guard or the United States armed forces, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or any U.S. or state of Missouri ID that has a photo that's not expired."

And people who showed up to vote without the proper ID would still be able to cast a provisional ballot, which would be held out of the ballots-to-be-counted until the voter's signature could be verified, Kraus said.

The Lee's Summit Republican noted similar laws have been passed in 18 states, and that Indiana's law was upheld by that state's Supreme Court. Indiana's law also was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kraus said most Missourians already have the needed identification card.

"I don't think this is going to be a huge issue," he told the Senate's Financial & Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee. "You have to have an ID to cash a check. You have to have an ID to buy alcohol.

But Secretary of State Jason Kander said in a Monday news release that "approximately 220,000 registered voters could be disenfranchised" if lawmakers approve the changes and voters statewide adopt the constitutional amendment.

Kander spokesman John Scott told the committee that Kraus' bill would prohibit voting by students with school-issued IDs, senior citizens who no longer drive and people who regularly rely on public transportation.

Also affected are women whose last names have been changed by marriage or divorce who don't have all the paperwork required to show the name changes.

Carolyn Landry of St. Charles said she's been married more than 30 years, but that the last name she uses is from her first marriage.

"I have no way of getting the documentation this law requires," she said. "That means the Legislature tells me I can't vote."

Kraus shook his head during some of her testimony, but didn't explain what he disagreed with.

He told the committee "it's hard to tell" if there have been any instances of voter-impersonation fraud in Missouri "because we don't require (ID) now - but I have a book full of fraud in elections" from other states, including a New Mexico man who tried to vote for his son and an Ohio situation where someone voted absentee several times, then went to the polls and voted again."

No one supported Kraus' bill, but a number opposed it.

Scott told lawmakers that the secretary of state's office has found "no documented cases of Voter Impersonation fraud" anywhere in Missouri.

He called Kraus' bill "possibly the most restrictive photo ID legislation in the country."

St. Louis lawyer Denise Lieberman of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition said she's been involved in lawsuits against voter photo ID requirements around the nation.

"This is the eighth year that this body has proposed restrictive voter ID requirements," she said, "and the evidence continues to mount that proves unequivocally ... that these proposals will, indeed, relegate hundreds of thousands of Missouri voters to second-class citizens."

Lieberman and several others testified that Missouri law already requires voters to prove their identity when they cast a ballot at the polling place, including a photo ID.

Charles Bowles, a St. Louis University senior from Louisville, Ky., said he registered to vote in Missouri - but the law, if passed, wouldn't let him use either his Kentucky driver's license or his university student ID.

"This legislation hurts college students," he said.