- Associated Press - Thursday, July 7, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation Thursday that would have required voters to show photo identification at the polls, prompting a lawmaker behind the effort to say he is confident the Republican-led Legislature will overturn the Democrat’s action.

In a letter explaining his veto, which was expected, Nixon said the measure would make it harder to vote, particularly for older voters, people with disabilities and minority voters, and isn’t needed. The governor also said such policies are sometimes considered to be “motivated by an attempt to suppress turnout among certain classes of voters.”

“The more citizens participate in our democracy by going to the polls, the stronger our democracy is,” Nixon wrote. “Putting additional and unwarranted barriers between citizens and their ability to vote is wrong and detrimental to our system of government as a whole.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Justin Alferman, a Hermann Republican, said he’ll “absolutely” ask his colleagues to override Nixon’s veto during a short September session. He and Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican who ushered the bill through the Senate and is running for secretary of state, both said they’re confident lawmakers will be able to do so. The measure passed both the House and Senate with enough support to override Nixon if lawmakers stick to their original votes.

But the requirements wouldn’t take effect unless voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment; that approval is needed because the Missouri Supreme Court previously struck down similar requirements as unconstitutional. If voters OK the measure, the requirement would take effect for elections after June 2017.

Alferman said Thursday that requiring photo ID is necessary to ensure no one impersonates another voter at the polls, a problem Nixon in his veto letter said “does not exist.” Alferman responded that there’s no way to know that unless photo identification is required.

He also disputed that any voters would be disenfranchised and said the legislation includes exceptions. The bill would allow people without photo ID to vote after signing a statement saying they don’t have the required identification and can show some other form of identification.

It calls for the state to cover the cost of IDs for voters who don’t already have them. Legislative researchers estimated it could cost anywhere from nothing to more than $2 million this year and more than $11 million in 2018 to implement the measure.

Nine states currently have similar photo identification laws classified as “strict” in effect, according to Wendy Underhill, the program director for elections at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven other states request photo identification.

The proposed amendment is on the Nov. 8 ballot. If the Legislature does not overturn the veto and voters approve the constitutional amendment, lawmakers who want photo ID would have to try to pass a law in the 2017 session.

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