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Voter ID Questions Remain: Wash U. Professor

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Even if photo voter identification legislation finally passes in the Missouri Legislature this session, there may still be court challenges at the federal level. That’s according to Greg Magarian, a professor of Constitutional law at Washington University.

Lawmakers in Jefferson City are currently working on a voter ID law that would require a constitutional amendment and be approved by voters.

“That would clear Missouri courts” says Professor Magarian but there would still be questions that the U.S. Supreme Court might raise. “How easy or difficult is it to get a necessary form of ID, what findings are there about how many people this would effectively block out from voting?”

Supporters of a photo voter ID law in Missouri contend it would help eliminate voter fraud. Opponents claim such a law would disenfranchise a certain group of voters, namely the elderly, students, poor, and people of color.

Professor Magarian says the jury is still out on whether a photo voter ID law would effect the demographics at the polling places. The professor says he’s still waiting for data in the 2012 election before drawing any conclusions.

At the core of the photo voter ID debate is politics, Magarian said.

“States that have, in this recent wave, passed voter ID laws, have all been Republican legislatures, all signed by Republican governors. This is a partisan divide. I think Republicans are concerned in a lot of places about demographic trends in the electorate and they would like to chose a more favorable electorate where their chances to stay in power are greater. I think that is what this is all about.”

Photo voter I.D. legislation has cleared the Missouri House and is now before the state Senate.

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