On election day, Missouri voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to require a photo ID in order to vote. A yes vote on Constitutional Amendment 6 allows the state to require resident to prove their identity by displaying government issued photo ID’s. Missouri Republicans believe photo ID’s prevent voter fraud. Democrats said a constitutional amendment is unnecessary and expensive.
“We just feel like you ought to have more documentation that says you are who you say you are,” said Republican State Representative Shamed Dogan who represents the 98th District. “I think it is a problem. Whenever you have elections, you’re going to have people who are willing to cheat.”
Democratic State Representative Stacey Newman disagrees, saying voter impersonation fraud is rare and not a problem that needs solving.
“It totally confuses voters because there is no reason for it,” said Newman. “There is no documented case of voter impersonation fraud in the state of Missouri.”
Constitutional Amendment 6 would still allow people to vote using a non-photo ID, but those voters would be required to sign a statement verifying their identity under penalty of perjury. After voting, they would be required to get a government issued ID that the state would pay for, including necessary documents.
“After listening to groups like the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, I added an amendment saying that we will also pay for birth certificates, we'll pay for marriage licenses,” said Dogan.
Newman cited cost as a reason to vote no.
“Right now the appropriation number is $17 millions dollars for the first year, which the state does not have an extra $17 million dollars laying around.”
Newman estimates more than 200,000 Missouri voters could be disenfranchised, including the elderly and people of color.
“It is costly, confusing, it cuts people out of the whole voting process. It's unnecessary,” said Newman. “It cuts people out. We estimate right now there's about 250,000 current registered voters, some of them longtime voters who do not have a driver’s or a non-driver’s license from Missouri, and some can't meet the requirements to get one.”
“That was something that as an African American I was very sensitive to,” said Dogan. “I did not want to have a bill that required people to pay to exercise their right to vote.”
The effort by Missouri Republicans to require photo ID’s to vote goes back more than a decade. In 2006 the Missouri Supreme Court deemed voter ID’s unconstitutional.