Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2008)

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The Missouri Voter I.D. Amendment did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Missouri as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would have required all voters in Missouri to have valid photo identification in order to be permitted to vote. The measure failed to be approved by both houses and therefore did not appear on the ballot.

Status

This measure was approved by the House, but the Senate missed their deadline for approval on May 15, 2008.[1] The measure was never voted on in the Senate and will not appear on the 2008 ballot.[2]

Background

Legislators approved a photo ID law in 2006, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court as a violation of the state constitution. The proposal approved in May of 2008 would have presented the idea to voters as a constitutional amendment either in November or in a special election.[3]

If referred to the ballot and adopted by voters, the proposed amendment would have cleared the way for the Legislature to adopt a bill requiring voters to prove their citizenship and legal residence in Missouri, including by showing a valid government-issued photo identification.[1]

Support

Republicans in the Missouri House brought up the proposal after the U.S. Supreme Court said an Indiana photo ID law was constitutional.[3]

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof backed the measure, saying that requiring voters to show photo identification was a reasonable reform that would ensure election results are accurate and trustworthy.[4] He added that, “Missourians have to show their ID to get on an airplane or cash a check. It is logical to provide similar proof of citizenship when it comes time to cast a ballot.”[5]

Opposition

Many Democrats opposed the measure, they said that it could disenfranchise some voters, and that there was little evidence of people impersonating other voters.</ref name="hulshof"/>

Rep. Jim Guest, a Republican (King City), was the only member to cross party lines and vote with Democrats against it.[5]

Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan openly criticized the measure. Carnahan said elections can’t be fair if otherwise eligible voters are barred for lack of a government ID, which she said fits an estimated 240,000 Missourians. She said there have been no cases of voter impersonation fraud, and that voters already identify themselves at the polls with a driver’s license or military card, a passport, voter registration card, utility bill, or bank statement.[5]

The opposition expressed concern for older people in the community who do not have photo I.D.s, even though measure states that a free I.D. will be provided by the government to anyone who doesn't have one. Some believed that that may not be enough.

Diana Oleskevich, justice coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, said a “significant number of bright, intelligent women” in that St. Louis-based religious community “long ago gave up driving".

“They’re in their 80s and 90s now and are hard pressed to get the documents they need to vote,” she said.[5]

Lillie Lewis, 71, said her driver’s license expires in June. But because of a government building fire in her native Mississippi, Lewis said she doesn’t have a birth certificate that she believes is necessary to renew her license. If the amendment passed, she said she feared she would be unable to show a proper ID come the next general election.[5]

Defending the nuns

State Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he planed to propose an amendment in the Senate to exempt nuns from the photo ID requirement. The state Democratic Party also circulated fliers at the convention that feature a large photo of nuns, emblazoned with a headline asking, “Who Would Say No to A Group of Nuns?” They’re referring to the 12 nuns turned away from the polls in Indiana on May 6, 2008, because they lacked a government-issue photo ID.[6]

See also

References