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House Approves Photo ID Requirement for Voting

The Missouri House approved legislation requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The bill passed the House on a straight party line vote.

The bill sponsor is Republican Representative Bryan Stevenson of Webb City in Southwest Missouri.

He says the bill will make it more difficult to engage in fraudulent voting, something that he says likely has happened in the past.

The House rejected a democratic amendment to delay the photo I-D requirement until 2008.

Some opponents say Republicans are pushing for the implementation of the I-D requirement in November with they hope to impact voter turnout.

Democratic Representative John Burnett of the Kansas City area says the bill is about politics, not election fraud.

The House version of the bill softens the I-D requirement for the November election by allowing anyone without appropriate photo identification to cast a ballot if two election judges, one Republican and one Democrat recognize the voter.

This provision, which lawmakers say county clerks want would expire after the November election.

Even after lawmakers approved this provision, Democrats complained the bill will keep some people from voting.

Democratic Representative Connie Johnson of St Louis.

While democrats claim the bill will disenfranchise the elderly, bill supporters say there are exemptions to protect voters over the age of 65.

The bill sponsor, Republican Representative Bryan Stevenson says the bill addresses voter fraud while also protecting the voting rights of the elderly and disabled.

But that provision isn't enough to convince some critics of the photo I-D requirement.

Democratic Representative Yaphett El-Amin of St Louis says the bill will reduce access to the ballot box.

While critics claim there are as many as 200 thousand people who don't have photo identification, bill supporters say that number is much lower.

Republican Representative Bryan Stevenson says most people are used to using their driver's license for daily transactions.

Because the House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, the Senate must either accept the House version or go to conference and work out a compromise. Lawmakers have until Friday May 12th to pass legislation during the regular session.