Legislature set to pass voter photo ID bills

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A bill in the Missouri Legislature to require photo IDs to vote has passed the House Elections Committee on a straight-line party vote.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is expected to pass despite a major push back by the Democratic members.

The question of vote photo IDs has been a hot topic for a number of years.

The arguments both for and against the proposal both seem to be exaggerated.

The Republicans say the photo IDs will reduce or eliminate potential voter fraud even though actually criminal cases of such fraud are rare.

The Democrats in turn argue that the requirement will disenfranchise the "elderly, minorities, women, the poor, transgender people and the disabled," according to testimony before the House committee last week.

Both positions on the issue are clearly hyped to generate support.

One study concerning Missouri indicated that there were only 17 cases of voter fraud here from 2000 to 2012. That would seem to indicate the proposal on photo IDs is a solution in search of a problem.

But there is clearly ample misleading information spewing from the opponents who seriously inflate numbers of those impacted to generate opposition.

For example, back in 2008, the Supreme Court heard the arguments for and against an identical law in Indiana.

The opponents of the photo ID requirement submitted expert reports indicating that as many as 989,000 registered Indiana voters lacked photo IDs.

But supporters of the bill in Indiana provided census data and other evidence that the number of voters there without the IDs was only 43,000.

The courts upheld the measure approving photo IDs.

But the exaggeration in Indiana was not alone.

In Georgia, an Appeals court found that the number submitted by opponents of the measure was "implausible."

A similar number-fudging in Wisconsin was ruled "questionable" by the courts.

And in the Indiana case, the high court said the numbers of those negatively impacted by voter IDs was "utterly incredible and unreliable."

Which brings us back to Missouri.

The ID requirement will likely be approved by the Missouri Legislature and sent to the voters for their approval. Given the current climate and concerns over voter integrity, I would suspect that Missouri voters will approve the measure.

When the dust settles, it's unlikely the measure will eliminate all instances of voter fraud nor will it disenfranchise wide swaths of voters.

But given the bill's funding of the photo ID requirement and the added insurance of voter integrity, I could easily see Missouri voters approving the measure when it makes it way on the ballot.

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