Missouri House endorses photo ID requirement for voting

The Republican-controlled Missouri House approved a proposal late Wednesday that would require voters to show photo identification at polling places.

Proponents say requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID before casting ballots would help prevent election fraud.

Critics argue that Missouri has had no known recent instances of voter impersonation. They also say the rule could make it harder for some people to vote.

Some of the pushback has come from the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus.

“This is nothing more than a modern-day poll tax,” Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, said last week. “Voting is a right. It’s not a privilege. They’re trying to turn it into a privilege.”

Lawmakers have discussed the proposal several times in recent years, with the debate generally falling along party lines.

On Wednesday, House members approved a constitutional amendment allowing for a photo ID requirement. Lawmakers then endorsed separate legislation that would implement it.

Both measures require another vote before going to the Missouri Senate.

If the constitutional amendment eventually passes, it will appear on statewide ballots in 2014.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed similar legislation before, but Republicans are more confident this year because of their new veto-proof supermajorities.

Kansas adopted a voter photo ID law in 2011.