Senate Democrats Force Compromise on Voter ID

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JEFFERSON CITY — After waging a filibuster on Republican voter ID legislation for several hours on multiple days, Democrats in the Missouri Senate forced compromise on House Bill 1631 that would ensure no voter is denied his or her Constitutional right to vote.

“The choice facing Senate Democrats was clear: either the compromise substitute would proceed or a version disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters would be passed over our objections,” said Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis).   “In the end, I care too deeply about voting rights to allow a bill to pass this chamber that would deny anyone’s right to vote.”

The voter ID bill Republicans threatened to pass over Democratic objections would have disqualified hundreds of thousands of voters. The compromise would allow any registered voter without a photo ID to cast a regular ballot after signing a statement professing his or her identity.

“This bill allows someone without a photo ID to cast a regular ballot — not a provisional ballot — but a regular ballot,” said Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur).   “Any registered voter who wants to vote will be able to vote.”

The compromise requires the State and all fee offices to provide free photo IDs and also any underlying documents necessary to obtain a photo ID, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. The bill also tasks the Secretary of State’s office with facilitating the acquisition of and paying for underlying documents from other states for those who need such documents.

All costs associated with the photo ID compromise will be paid for in the state budget. If the appropriation is insufficient, the photo ID requirement would not be enforced.

Despite the numerous concessions made on the bill, all Senate Democrats voted against the measure.

“Incidents of in-person voter fraud are virtually non-existent. While I don’t like this bill or any voter ID bill, the Republican supermajority made this legislation as palatable as possible,” explained Senate Assistant Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors). “Although this isn’t good public policy, we agreed to end the filibuster because the bill was amended to ensure no citizen is denied his or her right to vote.”

“This is how the Senate is supposed to function, through deliberate and careful compromise,” concluded Sen. Keaveny.