Thu February 14, 2013
Mo. House Debates, Passes Voter ID Bill
The Missouri House has given first-round approval to a pair of bills that would institute photo ID requirements for voters. Floor debate got heated on several occasions.
Arguments split exactly down party lines, with no defectors from either side. Democrat Genise Montecillo of St. Louis County 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 someday,” Montecillo said.
That comment brought a sharp response from GOP House Member Noel Torpey of Independence.
“We’re not disenfranchising anyone,” Torpey said. “This is a simple [effort] to just prevent voter fraud. If they don’t show identification, how do you prove it?”
Democrat and longtime veteran lawmaker Chris Kelly of Columbia strongly condemned the proposals.
“Jim Crow is alive in this room today. This is the single most immoral act that I’ve ever seen happen in my time in the General Assembly,” Kelly said.
The enacting bill passed 106 to 48, with the vote splitting exactly along party lines. Two Democrats, however, broke ranks and voted in favor of the measure that would allow Missouri voters to decide if the General Assembly should have the authority to pass a photo ID requirement. Both measures need one more House vote before moving over to the State Senate.