Missouri voters will be required to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot under a wide-ranging elections bill headed to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.
The bill includes several other provisions — such as prohibiting touchscreen voting machines, and requiring a number of cybersecurity checks — that came out of hearings last summer, where legislators heard a parade of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. It would also do away with Missouri’s presidential primary and create a two-week window to cast an absentee ballot without an excuse.
But the main provision, and the most controversial, is the photo ID requirement.
Sponsored by state Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, the bill is the latest in a 15-year Republican effort to enact a photo ID requirement to vote in Missouri. Legislation has passed several times, but it’s never been able to fully withstand legal challenges.
“Missouri has security and accountability and transparency in our election system,” Simmons said on the House floor Thursday. “We already have a good system. We just have to make sure it’s always better because Missourians want and deserve to know that their election system is trustworthy.”
The bill passed out of the House Thursday by a vote of 97 to 47 — one day before the legislative session ends. The Senate passed the measure on Monday. Democrats agreed to end a filibuster and let the bill come to a vote after adding an amendment to allow for in-person, no-excuse absentee voting during the two weeks before an election at the local election authority office.
A move to allow for satellite in-person absentee voting was squashed.
Missouri has security and accountability and transparency in our election system.
– Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington
If the governor signs the bill as expected, registered voters would either have to get a government-issued photo ID or else only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.
The provisional ballot would be counted only if the voter returns later that day with a photo ID or if election officials can verify their signature based on voter records.
House Democrats called the legislation “shameful”
“This bill is a major disenfranchisement movement,” said Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City. “It is to deny people who have fought and denied for this right to vote. It’s an attempt to restrict their participation in the process.”
Members of the legislative Black caucus harshly criticized their Democratic counterparts in the Senate for letting the bill pass after what one referred to as a “lackluster filibuster.”
“The inside of me is hurting right now,” said Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis. “I’m not that upset at the other side. I’m more upset with senators that look like me that could have stood up for hours.”
Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale, said the fact that Democrats only stood up for nine hours was “sickening,” given the sacrifice their relatives made to have the right to vote.
Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson, agreed saying, “If there’s a hill to die on, certainly this was one because frankly, there were hills that people literally died on.” </…….