Early voting and voter ID

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Missouri legislators say politics isn't to blame for holding up passage of legislation that would make it more convenient for voters to cast ballots and companion legislation that would require voter identification. But Democrats generally favor early voting and oppose voter ID, while Republicans generally favor voter ID and, in limited cases, also back early voting.

The bottom line for the current legislative session, where both proposals are being considered, is that the Republican majority controls the outcome, and Republicans say adopting early voting will hinge on also adopting voter ID.

Politics aside, both proposals could improve the voting process for Missourians. More than 30 other states allow early voting in one form or another, and a third of all voters in last year's presidential election cast ballots before Election Day, according to an Associated Press story.

Currently, Missourians can cast early ballots only if they give a reason for not being able to vote on Election Day at polling places. More and more Missourians, however, are choosing the absentee-ballot method simply for convenience. No-excuse voting would allow anyone the convenience of early voting.

Voter identification would take care of some of the problems that occur at every major election. Voters who aren't properly registered or don't know where they should vote or might be tempted to vote in more than one polling place would be less likely to abuse the system if they were required to show proper ID. Opponents say some voters would have a hard time getting photo identification, but that seems like an easy enough problem to resolve.

Early voting and voter ID are two ideas that should get serious consideration in Missouri. Down the road, the legislature is likely to be faced with decisions about other voting changes, such as voting by mail and voting by computer on the Internet.

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