JEFFERSON CITY • The Senate approved a measure today that would require photo identification to vote, in a move supporters lauded as a step toward addressing problems of voter fraud in the state.
Meanwhile, opponents of the legislation worried that the measure would create unfair obstacles to voting for those without photo identification.
The final vote of 26-7 was cast along party lines, with Republicans favoring the bill. The measure will now move to the House, where a sizable Republican majority could bode well for the legislation.
If the legislation passes both houses, it will go into effect only if a constitutional amendment is approved by state voters.
Opposition to the bill stemmed from concerns that it could limit voting rights among eligible voters. Democrats said that senior citizens or people with disabilities, among others, could be aversely affected.
After the vote today, Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, displayed her discontent with the Senate's decision on her Twitter account.
"Senate just voted 26-7 to disenfranchise at least 230,000 voters. Just another day in paradise..." she wrote.
Justus' tweet refers to the estimated 230,000 registered voters in Missouri who lack state-issued photo identification, according to a number tracked each year by the secretary of state's office.
On the other side of the aisle, Senate Republicans dispute that the legislation could compromise state residents' ability to vote. For those without an ID, said bill sponsor Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, the measure would allow the option of voting a provisional ballot.
But, Stouffer said he does not see a reason why someone would not have a valid photo ID.
"A government-issued photo ID is the standard everywhere we go," he said in an interview. "You can't send a package, get on an airplane, or rent a movie without a photo ID."
This isn't the first time the Legislature has sought to enact a photo ID law. The General Assembly passed a photo ID measure in 2006, which was later overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court.