JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate on Monday agreed to a requirement for people to show photo identification when voting, ending almost a month of Democratic attempts to block the legislation and clearing a path for it to pass the Legislature.
Republicans agreed to allow people without a photo ID to cast a ballot if they sign a statement saying, under penalty of perjury, that they don’t have the required identification and can show some other form, such as a paycheck or utility bill.
The measures need another vote before going back to the House, where lawmakers passed versions of the legislation earlier this year with enough votes to override a possible veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The proposed constitutional amendment would bypass the governor and go on the ballot later this year; if voters reject the amendment, the photo ID requirement would not go into effect.
Sen. Will Kraus, the Lee’s Summit Republican who handled the measures in the Senate, said House lawmakers have been briefed on the Senate’s negotiations, and he expects both measures to pass the chamber unchanged.
Democrats had filibustered the bill since it first came to the floor in early April by reading election results, a book and newspaper articles. After the Senate stayed in session until the early morning hours last week without a vote, Republicans began floating the option of cutting off debate - a maneuver that has instigated Democrats to bring the chamber to a virtual standstill the few times it’s been used in the recent past.
“We were going to pass it one way or the other,” said Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin.
Kraus, who is also running for secretary of state, said adding a way for voters without photo IDs to cast a ballot was the biggest change and called the legislation “a good compromise.”
The new version is the product of “earnest and sincere” negotiations, Kansas City Democrat Sen. Jason Holsman said. “This substitute (legislation) will disenfranchise less voters than when we started,” he said, adding that he still opposes the bill.
The legislation stems from at least a decade of Republican attempts to require a photo ID to vote in Missouri. If the measure becomes law, Missouri would join 17 other states that require a photo ID to vote, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that a photo ID requirement signed into law by then-Republican Gov. Matt Blunt violated the state Constitution, which the court said contains more expansive protections to the right to vote than the U.S. Constitution. In addition to the cost of acquiring an ID, some people would also have to pay for source documents, such as birth certificates, the court wrote, which represented a “heavy and substantial” burden on the right to vote.
To address that, this year’s legislation directs the state to pay for one birth certificate or other document necessary for someone to get an ID. If the state does not budget money for that, election authorities would be barred from enforcing it.
Nixon vetoed another photo ID bill in 2011.
The legislative session ends May 13.
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