The Missouri House has given first-round approval to a pair of bills that would institute photo ID requirements for voters.
The first, House Joint Resolution 5 , would amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers to pass a photo ID requirement, and the second, House Bill 48, would enact that requirement. Floor debate became heated on several occasions, and arguments split exactly down party lines, with no defectors from either side. One of the strongest condemnations came from Democrat and longtime veteran lawmaker Chris Kelly of Columbia.
“Jim Crow is alive in this room today," Kelly said. "This is the single most immoral act that I’ve ever seen happen in my time in the General Assembly.”
State Representative Genise Montecillo (D, St. Louis) said she was embarrassed that House members were even discussing legislation that would deny segments of Missouri’s population of their right to vote.
“And most of all, I don’t envy you having to explain it to your Maker when you meet your Maker, and we will all meet our Maker someday," Montecillo said.
That comment brought groans from the Republicans, and a retort from State Representative Noel Torpey (R, Independence): “Listen, if I’m going to hell, it’s not because of the vote I take today!”
Torpey added: “We’re not disenfranchising anyone…this is a simple (effort) to just prevent voter fraud…if they don’t show identification, how do you prove it?”
Two Democrats voted for HJR 5: Vicki Englund of Tesson and Ira Anders of Independence – but they returned to the fold and voted “no” on HB 48. Both bills need one more vote before going to the Missouri Senate.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport