The Buzz

Missouri voter ID law gets initial House approval

Year after year, Missouri Republicans try to implement a photo ID requirement to vote.

Despite overwhelming legislative majorities, they come up short every time.

The GOP has watched voter ID bills vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, tossed out by the courts and bargained away by lawmakers in favor of other legislative priorities.

The perennial push began anew this week, with the House granting initial approval to a pair of bills sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger, a Hartville Republican.

One bill would ask voters to amend the state’s constitution to allow the state to require a photo ID before casting a ballot. This is a necessary step to overcome a state Supreme Court ruling that deemed a previous voter ID law unconstitutional.

If voters approve the constitutional amendment, Dugger’s second bill would actually implement the photo ID requirements.

The House will have to approve both bills once more time before they are sent to the Senate.

Committees in the House and Senate were scheduled to discuss other voter ID bills this week, but those hearings were cancelled due to snow.

In the Senate, Republican Sen. Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit is sponsoring a pair of bills similar to Dugger’s (Kraus is also running for his party’s 2016 nomination for secretary of state, Missouri’s chief election officer).

In the House, Republican Rep. Joe Don McGaugh of Carrollton tackles the issue from a different angle.

In Missouri, voters already must provide some form of ID before casting a ballot. But that’s not limited to items with photos. Documents like a utility bill can suffice.

Under McGaugh’s bill, voters could no longer receive a provisional ballot using a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government documents that contains the name and address.

The arguments for and against voter ID haven’t changed much over the years.

Proponents say a photo ID requirement is a needed safeguard to prevent voter fraud, while opponents say there’s no evidence the type of fraud voter ID would prevent actually exists. Critics also fear a photo ID requirement could disenfranchise thousands of Missourians.