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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Opponents Speak Against Voter ID Proposal in House

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Opponents rail against Voter ID proposal in House

By TONY MESSENGER  
www.STLtoday.com 
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
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Voter ID laws deal with voter impersonation fraud, testified Ron Berry of the Secretary of State's office, and there hasn't been a single case of that type of voter fraud in the state, he said.

JEFFERSON CITY • A House hearing on Republican-sponsored voter identification legislation this morning had a deja vu feeling to it.
Just as in a couple of weeks ago in the Senate, not a single person spoke in favor of the proposal to require voters to show a photo ID at polls. But a plethora of groups opposed the legislation, arguing that requiring photo identification is an unconstitutional infringement of Missourians' fundamental right to vote.
The legislation, which already passed a Senate committee, is a priority of Republicans this year, and so the lack of testimony in favor of it won't get in the way of it moving quickly through the legislative session.
But opponents were quick to point to the lack of voices clamoring for the bill in criticizing it.
"Just what is it we are trying to achieve?" asked AARP's Ron Sergent, who testified against the bill. "We cannot risk disenfranchisement of the most vulnerable among us to provide comfort to the most powerful."
Republicans who back the bill suggest it is needed to ensure that there is no voter fraud in Missouri, and they frequently refer to various cases of voter registration fraud as an example.
But voter ID laws deal with voter impersonation fraud, testified Ron Berry of the Secretary of State's office, and there hasn't been a single case of that type of voter fraud in the state, he said.
State Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, was combative in his questioning of Berry during a give-and-take during the House hearing. Cox has been pushing the Voter ID bill for years. This year, he is sponsoring a joint resolution that would allow voters to decide whether they want to amend the state constitution to allow voter identification. A companion bill by state Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, would implement the Voter ID law and also allow for four days of early voting in Missouri.

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