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House Republicans advance voter-ID bill

Alexander Mallin
State Capitol Bureau
February 06, 2013 - Republican state lawmakers once again are pushing legislation that would require Missouri citizens to present a state-issued photo identification when voting.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, spent more than an hour fielding questions from Democrats at a House Elections Committee hearing last week. While Cox and other Republicans have said the legislation is needed to keep people from impersonating others when voting, Democrats on the panel said the push for a photo-ID requirement has been politically motivated.

"These efforts from various states across the country are designed to restrict voters from voting Democrat," said Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County.

The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a similar measure in 2006. Cox said his bill won't suffer the same fate because it would change the state Constitution after a statewide vote.

"I think the voters will approve it by an overwhelming 75 (percent) to 85 percent and when they do that then they (the court) will have to uphold it because it's a reasonable regulation and an exercise of a very common sense way of protecting the vote," Cox said.

But Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, said Tuesday that Missouri doesn't have a problem with voter fraud and Republicans are trying to stifle the votes of minorities. Nasheed said if the legislation passes the House, she would filibuster it on the Senate floor.

"With a supermajority (of Republicans) in the House as well as the Senate, this will become law," Nasheed said. "The only way that this will stop, is in the Senate, so I will be calling on all of my Democratic colleagues to hold the line on this one. This is the one we are going to go to bat for. We are going to go to battle."

The Senate has its own versions of photo-ID legislation, sponsored by Will Kraus, R-Jackson County. At a Feb. 5 hearing of the Senate Elections Committee, Kraus said he wanted to ensure "one man, one vote" in the state's elections.

The House bill was voted out of committee Tuesday and is scheduled for a first-round approval vote on the chamber floor. Both Senate proposals have yet to be voted on in committee.

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