Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) released a report Thursday indicating problems with the strict voter identification requirements contained in a bill pending before the Legislature.
There have been no reported cases of voter impersonation fraud since the state's current voter ID requirements were put into place in 2002, according to Kander's report. Legislation to limit the types of IDs that can be used to vote in Missouri is currently pending in the state Senate after passing the state House. Kander's full report can be read here.
“As the chief elections officer for Missouri, a major part of my job is making sure that voters are informed about the laws and the laws being proposed," Kander told The Huffington Post on Friday. "It is important for eligible Missourians to know the impact of this legislation on their ability to cast a ballot. The legislation being proposed would make it more difficult for eligible voters who have voted for years.”
Under the terms of the legislation, voters would have to show either a valid Missouri driver's license or state-issued identification card, a passport, military ID card, or an unexpired state or federal photo ID card. The legislation would end the use of other forms of ID, including student ID cards, utility statements and expired Missouri driver's licenses.
If passed, it would put Missouri on par with Indiana for having the strictest voter ID laws in the country.
Similar legislation passed the Republican-controlled state Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D). Republicans have expanded their legislative majorities and could override a Nixon veto this year.
State Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville), the bill's sponsor, told a state Senate committee earlier this month that the bill is needed to prevent fraud, the News-Tribune reported.
“Having served as a county clerk for 14 years, and working in the election process, I think that you have to say that there is, certainly, a potential for fraud," Dugger said. “And so, I think bringing about this photo ID [law] is the best way that I know that we could help clean up the potential fraud that’s out there.”
Dugger did not return messages from HuffPost for comment on Kander's report.
Kander said the bill makes what could be described as a poll tax for those seeking to vote. While there is a provision in the legislation for the state to fund the ID cards for those seeking them in order to vote, he said voters would still need to pay for supporting documentation, like a birth certificate, to obtain the IDs.
In 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned a previous law that limited the kinds of ID cards used on the basis that it required people to pay for the cards. At the time, the court noted the potential for having to pay for support documentation, which Kander referenced.
“There are states with photo ID requirements that don’t disenfranchise eligible voters," Kander said.
If the bill became law, Kander said he would enforce it since it is his job, but would also work to educate Missouri residents about the impact. He plans to make sure the Legislature funds the cost of ID cards for those who need them.
At the same time, Kander said that his focus has been on trying to increase early voting and suggested that lawmakers follow his lead.
“That is the sort of thing we should focus on," Kander said. "That is something Missourians want. That can decrease lines on Election Day.”
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