Citizenship labels could be put on photo IDs under proposed bill

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JEFFERSON CITY – The next time you go to the voting polls, a bar, or anywhere else that checks identification, workers might be able to see your citizenship status under a proposed House bill.

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials on Wednesday debated House Bill 1107, which would require a marking on photo IDs, like driver’s licenses, to display citizenship. 

The sponsor, Rep. Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton, said that would make it easier to check a person’s citizenship status when registering to vote.  

“It’s going to be easier for election authorities to run the election,” she said. 

McGaugh said the idea came from county clerks, who told her it’s an issue. 

 “A person can use their green card to get the real ID, use the real ID to attempt to vote when they’re not citizens and our constitution shows that that is a requirement,” she said.

McGaugh said there are not statistics she could list specifically that back up that claim.

Lucas Endicott, a mission strategist for the United Methodist Church of Missouri, said he thinks the bill would open the door to discrimination. 

“What are the unintended consequences of having a box on your license that says citizen or not? It unnecessarily creates an in group or an out group and doesn’t reflect our sort of multiple statuses that we have legally within this country,” he said. 

When writing the bill, McGaugh said, she did not think of those possibilities.

“I did not bring this bill forward to discriminate against any class of people that want to vote," she said.

McGaugh said election authorities and people who work in government want all legal voters to cast a ballot.

“So if we can get some kind of distinguishing mark on their drivers license, I think it’s good for everyone to know that their vote is legal,” she said.

Endicott said he questions if that's even a current problem.

“In terms of what we’ve seen in voting cycles, I almost think it’s a false narrative that immigrants or people who are undocumented are going to try to sway local elections,” he said. 

With it being late in the session, McGaugh said she is not sure where the bill will go, but is hopeful. 

 

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