Voter ID forum eases confusion

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COLUMBIA - Representatives Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, and Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, addressed a forum of about 70 people Monday night, speaking on an already confusing law that critics believe will make voting more difficult.

Outgoing Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren spoke extensively, encouraging the community to vote despite early confusion.

“Forget everything you’ve heard about photo ID or voter ID before you walked in here,” Noren said. “There’s a lot of misinformation going on, and we don’t want to give voters the impression that they cannot vote if they don’t have a specific ID."

Noren says electronic poll pads will walk voters and poll workers through what identification requirements will let citizens cast their ballots.

63 percent of Missouri voters supported the constitutional amendment at the polls in November. Generally, the act requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls. However, voters may still cast a regular ballot with a valid utility bill or sworn statement of identification.

Opponents of the act said the changes only make it harder to register and discourage voters to come out. Stevens made a point to clarify the amendment's requirements.

"There is a broad misconception that no picture ID means you cannot vote," Stevens said. "This is simply not true."

As a part of a statewide tour, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft stopped in Columbia in early June educating voters on the changes and battling critics. Ashcroft and other Missouri Republicans maintain that voter ID changes are in the best interest of the electorate.

“If you’re a registered voter, you can vote,”  Ashcroft said in an email statement.

“It’s important that we protect the integrity of our elections by ensuring that every voter has the opportunity to vote and that every vote counts,” Ashcroft said.

Free voter IDs issued by the Secretary of State's office are not REAL ID compliant.