JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state senate could soon debate a voter photo ID measure, but Democrats are prepared to try to block it.
A bill that would create the statutory framework for voter photo ID and a resolution that would ask voters to change the state constitution to allow it are awaiting votes in a Senate committee. Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) says she and other Senate Democrats are prepared to stand in their way.
“I will not sit down or stand down on a voter ID bill that would disenfranchise hundreds and hundreds of Missourians – mainly African-Americans and seniors,” said Nasheed.
Nasheed and other Democrats say many voters in those groups don’t have the documentation needed to get a photo ID and could have to pay to get it. Opponents, then, equate the bill to a poll tax. Republicans say their proposals would provide the necessary documents for anyone who doesn’t have them, and say they are necessary to block voter impersonation fraud.
With the idea requiring having to go before voters, Nasheed says it’s partly an effort to get more Republicans to the polls when important races are up, such as those for president and Missouri governor, but she predicts that will backfire.
“They’re going to wake up the sleeping giant within the Democratic party because what you’re going to see is individuals within the party – they’re going to feel like their voter rights are being attacked, and they’re going to turn out to vote in a way that they have never seen before, especially the African-American community,” said Nasheed.
Republican leaders in the Senate acknowledge the issue is divisive and they expect to spend a lot of time on it, but Senate President Ron Richard (R-Joplin) says he’s not planning to use a previous question – a procedural move that would stop debate, or a filibuster, and force a vote on the legislation.
“Not at this time,” said Richard. “The caucus hasn’t given me direction on that … nah, we’re a long way from talking about that stuff.”