May 11, 2011- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been busy with the veto pen this session, and the legislature has given him cause to use it again.
A bill requiring citizens to produce government-issued photo identification at the polls would create barriers for thousands of elderly and disabled Missourians, college students and minorities. Now is the time to stop it.
A supposed sweetener in the bill — the introduction of convenient advance voting in Missouri — is a red herring. Early voting would be subject to annual funding by the legislature and governor. The chances of finding money in a cash-strapped budget anytime soon are slim.
The odds of the GOP-dominated legislature scraping up funds to initiate the photo ID requirement are much better, given the current pressure to do so from national Republican-leaning interest groups.
This is Missouri’s second try at a photo identification requirement. The state Supreme Court declared a previous law unconstitutional in 2006. Lawmakers are trying to circumvent that problem by asking voters to amend the state constitution to require voters to produce a photo ID. The enabling legislation passed this week would take effect if voters approve the amendment.