Missouri voters confused over ID requirements

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By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s secretary of state says some voters think they must present a photo ID to cast ballots on Nov. 6, a confusion brought on in part by the man who’s running for her seat.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan initiated a media blitz late this week to remind Show Me State residents that they are not required to present a government-issued photo ID to vote.

Acceptable forms of ID include common ones that include a photo, such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport, and also those without photos, including utility bills or paychecks that list the name and address of the voter. A complete list is available here.

Carnahan, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, said recent news and political debates on new voter ID laws in other states are creating some confusion, and her office has received plenty of calls asking about the Missouri requirements.

She noted that Kansas implemented a photo ID requirement this year, and those living near the border in the Kansas City market are often subjected to news reports and bulletins about the law.

“People in Missouri sometimes read and see those reports, and it causes some confusion,” Carnahan told Missouri Watchdog.

Beginning this year, Kansas residents must show photographic identification when casting a vote in person. When voting by mail, they must include a copy of a photo ID and have their signature verified

The Missouri law has not changed, although the Republican nominee for SOS hopes to do something about that.

State Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, embarked on a statewide campaign trip this week he called the “Show Me ID Tour” to tout his goal of making photo ID a requirement in Missouri. He is being joined by secretaries of state from Iowa, Kansas and Mississippi, who also have supported similar legislation in their states.

Schoeller said at a stop in Fenton that a photo requirement to vote is “just plain common sense.”

“When you go to the bank and you present your photo ID, why do you have a photo ID? In order to protect your hard-earned dollars that you put into that bank so it’s not taken from you,” he said. “Now why in the world would it not make sense to make sure you protect your vote every time you cast it by making sure you have a photo ID?”

Republicans have pushed such laws in recent years, while Democrats argue that these requirements would amount to a poll tax for elderly and poorer voters, who may not have photo IDs.

The AFL-CIO launched a campaign against photo ID laws across the United States, and the organization’s president, Richard Trumka,called Schoeller’s tour “shameful.”

State Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, the Democratic candidate for SOS, is against Schoeller’s plan.

Carnahan told Watchdog she’s not aware of any reports of voter impersonation in Missouri in decades. She calls the current regulations on ID requirements “common sense rules.”

In order for photo ID to be required in Missouri, voters would first have to approve an amendment to the state constitution to authorize it, and then the Missouri General Assembly would have to lay out requirements in a law. Lastly, the governor must sign it.

Gov. Jay Nixon, the incumbent Democrat who is running for re-election in two weeks, vetoed such legislation last year.

Contact Johnny Kampis at johnny@missouriwatchdog.org.  For more Missouri Watchdog updates, visit Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for a free newsletter.