Missouri General Assembly contemplates adding photo ID requirement for voting


Harsh Singh

Security or disenfranchisement? This year, Democrats and Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly face this question regarding requiring photo IDs for voting. The revised proposal, sponsored by Republicans Tony Duger and Stanley Cox, also stipulates that the IDs in question would be issued free of charge. Photo illustration by Mikaela Acton
The Missouri General Assembly will again attempt to pass a new voter ID bill after Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a similar bill three years ago. The proposal would allow the state to establish new rules requiring voters to show photo identification at polls. Sponsored by Republicans Tony Dugger and Stanley Cox on Jan. 9, 2014, the bill was first heard by the House of Representatives on Feb. 11.
Missouri is among 16 other states that do not require any form of identification at voting polls, but the Republican representatives in the House of Representatives made provisional changes to old proposals. Unlike the voter ID bill which was vetoed by Nixon three years ago, the newest version of the law would allow voters without proper identification to receive photo IDs without cost.
Freshman Keerthivaas Premkumar thinks the change made to the voter ID bill should be enough for it to pass.
“The main reason why people think the voter ID bill is unfair because the poor cannot afford photo IDs,” Premkumar said. “Since the bill will allow photo IDs to those who don’t have it without any money, there is no reason why the bill should not be passed.”
Photo IDs are needed for travel, opening bank accounts and taking the ACT test. According to a survey taken by the Rasmussen Reports, known for public opinion polling, 71 percent of Americans believe photo IDs are needed at polls.
Sen. Will Kraus Voter (R-Lee’s Summit) has said he is sponsoring the bill for one reason: to prevent voter fraud. However, the instances of voter fraud in past years have not been very high. Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud, according to a Department of Justice study outlined during a 2006 congressional hearing. Of these cases, only 26 resulted in convictions or guilty pleas. Junior Zach Ibitoye said the positives of the voter ID bill outweigh its negatives.
“Photo IDs will prevent any type of scam from happening which can also prevent inaccurate election results,” Ibitoye said. “Photo IDs are a must these days, and I don’t see why voting polls don’t require one.”
While some people believe they prevent fraud, others claim requiring photo IDs will disenfranchise low-income voters. At least 15 percent of voting-age citizens earning less than $35,000 annually do not have a valid government-issued photo ID, according to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Senior Chandler Randol said the more lenient voter laws are, the more opportunities people will have to vote.
“For example, the poor disproportionately have fewer government issued IDs than the wealthy,“ Randol said. “Since a voter ID must be government issued this, obviously, prevents some from voting.”
Randol still believes, though, there should be some type of voter identification to prevent frauds from happening. He said frauds need to be eliminated with a precautionary measure that won’t inhibit the poor from voting.
“There should be steps taken to ensure that voter fraud doesn’t occur,” Randol said. “For instance, your Social Security number could be used as this tends to be a more balanced approach. While there is merit in ensuring voter fraud doesn’t occur, voter IDs could potentially harm the right for some to vote.”
By Harsh Singh