JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus and House Democratic leadership held a press conference Tuesday at the Capitol to address voting legislation.
House Republicans recently passed House Bill 334, which requires residents to show photo IDs before voting. It also provides the option of a provisional ballot if the voter does not have personal identification.
Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove is the chair of the Black Caucus. She says the new bill puts barriers between voters and the ballot box. Republicans disagree, saying that ID is required for lots of daily activities.
Manlove says the elderly may also be affected.
"Photo voter registration ID discriminates against ethnic minorities and hurts elderly voters, that may not be able to access the documents needed for certification," she said.
Rep. Manlove compared the new voting policies in Missouri and around the country to suppressive policies from the past.
"This is very reminiscent of the poll taxes that provided barriers to the working and poor classes of African-Americans, literacy tests that barred African-Americans who had not been taught to read by their white masters, and grandfather clauses, that said that a man could only vote if his ancestor had been able to vote, explicitly cutting Black Africans whose ancestors had been enslaved out of the democratic process," she said.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade also spoke at the press conference. She said that the Republican claim that the bill addresses fraud is dishonest.
"No one, not even Republicans if they're being honest, really believe that the push for a strict voter ID law and other voting restrictions are intended to combat voter fraud. The reality is, such measures are intended to combat voting, by minority groups that don't support Republicans," Quade said.
Rep. Manlove also voiced her approval for House Resolution 1, which would address voting issues at the federal level. The resolution includes many provisions, including automatic voter registration and designating Election Day as a holiday.
HR 1 would also guarantee online voter registration, which is already available in Missouri.