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February 2nd, 2011
The Missouri State House and Senate began the 2011 legislative session at full speed and photo ID legislation is on the fast track. On January 24th, the Senate Financial, Governmental Organizations, & Elections Committee held a hearing and covered three bills that, if enacted, would endanger voters' rights. On January 31st, the Senate passed three voter suppression bills out of Committee, giving them initial approval.
The bills introduced this session, SJR9, SJR2, and SB3, are the legislature's fifth attempt to implement unnecessary and unduly restrictive photo ID law for voting since the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that such legislation violates the right to vote as guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution.
Supporters pushing for this restrictive photo ID to be required to vote have few reasons, arguing that it helps guard against election fraud - yet there
has not been one instance of voter impersonation fraud in Missouri.
Other problems with these voter ID provisions are:
1. It is unnecessary: Missouri's current voter identification law ensure voters are who they say they are on Election Day. Missouri's current law is also more strict than voter identification laws in half of other states.
2. It is expensive: In the midst of a budget crisis, it is irresponsible to spend millions of dollars to "fix" a problem that doesn't exist. Last year's fiscal note put the cost of photo ID at $7 million.
3. It will disenfranchise eligible voters: As many as 230,000 Missouri registered voters – mostly elderly, disabled, poor, and minority voters -- lack or cannot get the government issued photo ID this law would require Missourians to present at the polls.
4. The photo ID law would amount to a poll tax: Costs can be a significant barrier to obtaining a photo ID. Although the bill requires the state to provide ID at no charge to voters who certify that they can not afford one, it does not cover the costs of the underlying documents necessary to procure the photo ID, such as an original birth certificate - documents which can be costly, difficult, and sometimes impossible to obtain. This also amounts to a poll tax because of hidden costs like transportation to a The Missouri Supreme Court referred to the photo ID as a poll tax and "a heavy and substantial burden on Missourians' free exercise of the right of suffrage."
Please visit the LWVUS PAVP page
to read a wealth of information about the harmful and disenfranchising effects of photo ID requirements, and other League positions and studies on voter issues (early voting, absentee voting, polling place management, initiative process, etc...)
Below are links to recent news articles about this issue in Jefferson City
Senate Committee Gives Initial Approval to Three Voter Suppression Bills
Missouri Senate Panel Advances Photo ID Measures
Attorney Vows Challenge if Missouri enacts Photo ID
Photo ID Becomes a Big Topic in Legislatures
Engler: Photo ID and Early Voting Will be Combined
Missouri Senators Debate Bill Requiring Photo ID to Vote
Photo ID Bill Under Scrutiny in Missouri Senate
Other relevant information
Photo ID in Kansas
Information on photo ID in past Missouri legislative sessions
Please forward this email to your concerned friends or visit this page to tell a friend
Missouri League of Women Voters
Public Advocacy for Voter Protection (PAVP) Committee
P.S. - Contributions will help us educate voters about their rights and fight back against disenfranchising issues this legislative session. Your donations are very appreciated.
Elections cannot be fair if eligible voters are not allowed to vote.
League of Women Voters of Missouri
8706 Manchester Road, Ste 104
St. Louis, Missouri 63144-2724
Phone & Fax: 314-961-6869