The House began discussion on the House floor last week about legislation that would require Missourians to show a photo ID when they vote. The bill is similar to the one I have sponsored for several years and was passed by the General Assembly last year.
Unfortunately, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed that common sense piece of legislation forcing the General Assembly to act on it again. As the former chief election officer for St. Louis County, I have seen first-hand the chaos created by dishonest acts of groups such as ACORN. Voter fraud and registration fraud is becoming an increasingly real problem in Missouri and we must do all that we can to ensure the highest integrity in our election process.
Requiring a photo identification by those who vote is a simple and effective way to ensure that our elections are held to the highest standard and should be enacted in Missouri.
Special interest groups, such as ACORN and its successors, have attempted to sensationalize this proposal by breathlessly claiming that the poor, elderly, and certain religious groups would be disenfranchised. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The proposal before the General Assembly provides certain safe harbors for unique situations.
First, the state will provide photo identification to the small number of those who don’t have it and can’t afford it. Second, the bill also exempts Missourians who were born before Jan. 1, 1941 (due to the possibility that birth records may be difficult to locate in order to obtain a photo id) as well as those who object to their photo being taken as part of a validly held religious belief and those who are not able to obtain identification due to a handicap.
With these protections I believe we have a bill that protects the voting process while also ensuring each and every Missourian of voting age will be able to cast their votes at the polling place.
The right to vote is a privilege that is at the core of what it means to be an American. It is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect the integrity of this right.