Voter ID objections fall

“Racist” and “discriminatory” — if these are not fighting words, at the minimum they set a tone that is sure to make well-intentioned people defensive.

This goes to the heart of the debate over requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote in Missouri elections. Support breaks down along party lines on the presumption the requirement would negatively impact poor, older, inner-city voters who lean Democrat.

Too many Democrats, seeking to turn back the proposal, have sought to portray voter photo ID as racist or purposely discriminatory. They also float the questionable argument that there is no reason to be concerned about voter fraud in our state, apparently even in metro areas where the problem has been seen before.

Too many Republicans, seeking approval of the proposal, have casually dismissed the notion that otherwise eligible citizens could be denied their right to vote.

This standoff has blocked action — until now. We give credit to supporters of the ID law for making a decisive concession that reinforces their good intent.

The General Assembly last week sent the legislation to Gov. Jay Nixon after lawmakers agreed to an exception clause allowing a person without a government photo ID to vote if they provide some other identification and sign a statement saying they didn’t have the specified ID.

The other identification could include a copy of a government document, financial statement or utility bill that contains the voter’s name and address.

This concession prompted Democrats in the Senate to drop a filibuster holding up action. Many still disagree about the need for the ID requirement but realize the argument about fundamental unfairness has crumbled.

Republican Rep. J. Eggleston of Maysville says it best: Everyone deserves to have their vote count, “but they also deserve not to have their vote canceled out by a fraudulent vote.”

Assuring this should be a cornerstone of our election laws. But as much headway as has been made, this isn’t over.

The proposal, if signed by the governor, will not take effect unless Missouri voters approve a related constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to require photo voter IDs.

— St. Joseph News-Press

— St. Joseph News-Press

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