The House Joint Resolutions 5 and 12 will create a voter photo ID ballot measure to be approved by Missouri voters. This legislation is on the way to the Senate for its approval. If passed in the Senate, the Joint Resolutions will become a legislative referendum that will appear on either the 2014 August Primary or the November General election ballot as a Constitutional Amendment. Its purpose is to amend the Missouri Constitution to require voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote.
The language of HB 48 and HB 216 specifies that a person seeking to vote in a pubic election must establish his or her identity and eligibility to vote, and then must present identification that contains his or her photograph. The bills also state that an individual who doesn’t have a form of personal identification or a photo ID may still vote by casting a provisional ballot. The voter has three days after the election in which to present a valid form of identification in order for the provisional ballot to count.
Showing photo ID before voting has become an extremely partisan issue, both in Missouri and nationwide. Those opposed to any form of photo ID say that this measure is unnecessary and would create an additional burden on the elderly, the poor, and minorities. Those who support photo identification say that this measure is a way to protect the sanctity and integrity of the election process. If an individual in Missouri doesn’t possess a valid form of identification, the state will provide one for him or her at no cost. Thirty states have now enacted some form of voter ID law, with most requiring a photo.
It has never been the purpose or the intent of this legislation to restrict or to make it more difficult for a person to vote. Photo ID is a common-sense proposal that would protect elections and the voting process from fraudulent activity. A photo ID will ensure that a registered voter is actually whom he or she says, and not an imposter trying to cast a ballot in someone else’s name.
A recent survey by the Pew Center on the States showed that 24 million American voters registered in the U.S. are either not valid or they have errors in their registration information. They found there were almost 2 million deceased people who are still on the voter rolls, and another 3 million people who are registered in two or more states. Other findings show that in a number of counties, there are more people registered to vote than there are eligible voters.
Under Missouri law today, all individuals must have some form of identification to vote, though that ID doesn’t necessarily need to be a photo at this time. Current law states that a voter must possess one of the following to be allowed to vote: ID issued by the federal government, the state of Missouri, or a local election authority; ID issued by a Missouri higher educational institution—public or private—including a university, college, or a vocational or technical school; a copy of a current bank statement, utility bill, paycheck, government check, or other government document containing the name and address of the voter; a driver’s license or state ID card that is issued by another state.
If the people of Missouri approve the new Voter ID laws, our state will do its best to make sure that all voters—with as little hassle as possible—have proper photo ID. While it is a small extra step for individuals to show a photo ID before voting, the benefits could outweigh any slight inconvenience. Oftentimes voter and election fraud is difficult to detect. However, this legislation, if passed, will be a tool to help deter fraudulent activity and help ensure our elections are as fair as possible.