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Missouri Republicans push new voting requirements

New voting requirements have Republicans and Democrats arguing whether the state is making elections more secure, or making it harder for some to vote

ST. LOUIS — Just two months into President Joe Biden's time in office and Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to win the next election by altering voting laws in several states.

"What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick," Biden said Thursday of the Republican-led changes to voting laws.

Thursday, Missouri House Republicans advanced new voting requirements for the Show-Me state.

"I think what we did today was it was a great step forward," said one of the bill's sponsors, State Rep. Dan Shaul, a Republican representing Imperial.

Shaul concedes Missouri's last election — where Republicans won every statewide race — was fair and free of fraud.

He says these changes are about being "proactive." 

"I think we saw throughout the country a lack of trust in other jurisdictions. And I don't want that to ever start or have a reason to suspect that something is nefarious going on in the state of Missouri," said Shaul.

One thing the bill would do is strengthen the state's voter ID requirement.

The Secretary of State's office estimates more than 100,000 eligible voters in Missouri do not have a government ID.

But, Shaul points to a provision in the law that will pay for necessary documents people need to get an ID or allow them to cast a provisional ballot that they can verify later.

"I'm fairly confident that people that want to vote will be able to vote," he said.

"There's long been this belief that high voter turnout benefits Democrats," said University of Missouri St. Louis political science professor Anita Manion.

Manion says Democrats see these new election laws as an attempt by Republicans to gain an advantage at the polls.

"People believe there's a lot more fraud than there is and some of that was perpetrated over the last six months or so. But even before that, voters tend to believe there's more voter fraud than there is and they tend to support voter ID laws. So the Republican Party in Missouri is right in claiming that," Manion said. 

Meanwhile in Illinois, where Democrats are in control, there is an effort to make some of the COVID-related accommodations for voting permanent.

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