UPDATED: House committee schedules early-morning hearing on voter ID

2013-01-24T12:33:00Z 2013-02-05T14:36:19Z UPDATED: House committee schedules early-morning hearing on voter IDBy Elizabeth Crisp ecrisp@post-dispatch.com ​573-635-6178 stltoday.com

UPDATE 2: The meeting has been rescheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday.

UPDATE 1: Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, has asked that the meeting be rescheduled.

“There is no reason that a public hearing of the Missouri House of Representatives should be held at 6:45 a.m. It is not open and honest government, and it creates an unnecessary hardship for Missourians interested in testifying on the legislation or just listening to the hearing,” Kander, a former state lawmaker, said in a statement. “Hearings should always be held at easily accessible times for Missourians, especially when dealing with legislation as controversial and complicated as these proposals. The committee should change the timing of this hearing to allow Missourians to more easily be a part of the legislative process.”

ORIGINAL POST:

Missourians who want to attend a House committee hearing on efforts to require photo-based voter identification at the polls will have to get up bright and early next week.

The House Elections Committee has scheduled a 6:45 a.m. hearing Tuesday on the proposed voter ID legislation.

The committee’s meeting time has typically been 8:15 a.m. on Tuesdays, but members were told the voter identification hearing is expected to last longer than a regular meeting, prompting the time shift.

It’s not uncommon for committees to adjust times or even stop hearings and resume later in the day when members are free again.

But State Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat from Richmond Heights who is the ranking minority member on the committee, said she worries that Tuesday’s early start – which follows Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State address Monday night – will keep some people from being able to attend, particularly those who have to travel from other parts of the state.

“Our witnesses do not live in Jefferson City, so a hearing at 6:45 is restrictive,” said Newman, who opposes the ID bill. “It’s not good democracy.”

Photo-based identification has been a frequent topic of debate in Missouri for the past decade. Republicans, who say a photo ID requirement will help prevent election fraud, have mounted multiple unsuccessful attempts to implement it. Opponents say the change would disproportionately affect the poor, the disabled and the elderly, who are less likely to have photo identification.

Under current law, Missouri voters can show government-issued photo identification, including drivers licenses, or nonphoto forms of identification, including copies of utility bills with their names and addresses.

The two companion pieces of legislation up for debate Tuesday would put the issue on a statewide ballot and let voters decide whether photo ID should be required.

 

 

UPDATED hearing information:

Committee: Elections

Chair: Rep. Sue Entlicher (R-Bolivar)

Vice Chair: Rep. Myron Neth (R-Liberty)

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time: 8 AM

Location: House Hearing Room 3

Bill information:

HJR 5 -- PHOTO IDENTIFICATION TO VOTE

Sponsor: Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville)

Proposes a constitutional amendment specifying that general law may require a person to provide valid government-issued photo identification in order to vote in an election

HB 48 -- PHOTO IDENTIFICATION TO VOTE

Sponsor: Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville)

Requires a person to submit a specified form of photo identification in order to vote in a public election with specified exceptions

Elizabeth Crisp covers Missouri politics and state government for the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter at @elizabethcrisp.

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