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21 April 2010

Brandom: Early Voting, Photo ID, and the State Budget

Early Voting and Photo ID

This Week, the Missouri House passed legislation making it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Missouri elections. We gave approval to House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64 that establish the procedures to allow early voting and require voters to
produce photo identification before voting.

This legislation creates a four day (“no excuse - in person - absentee”) early voting period. Each county would have at least one voting center. Big cities and large counties would have regional voting centers. Early “no excuse” voting in Scott County would be available at the county courthouse, just as it is now
for those casting regular absentee ballots.

Recent elections saw increased instances of voter fraud. This important legislation would require voters to produce a form of photo identification when voting to help reduce fraud and abuse in our elections. In my recent constituent survey, eighty percent of those who responded were in favor of a photo ID to vote. In this day and age, requiring photo identification to vote is a common sense requirement. To ensure that this measure does not discourage voting, we created exemptions for the
elderly, the disabled, and those unable to afford the documents necessary to obtain proper identification. With the photo identification requirement, we have established necessary safeguards to help prevent voter fraud and ensure the integrity of our elections.

State Budget

Much of our time has been focused on budget negotiations during the recent weeks. The Governor submitted his budget to the House in January. Unfortunately it was soon found to be unbalanced due to Missouri’s continued declining revenue. The House
and Senate were looking at a shortfall of $500 million. Additional cuts have been made by each chamber.

The House reduced the budget by $225 million. The budget then went to the Senate where it was reduced by another $275 million. The Senate first eliminated and then restored $37.4 million to pay teachers earning Career Ladder money this year.
The next step for the budget is five members from each chamber to meet and compromise the differences between the two versions. Each chamber will then review the compromises and vote a final approval. The final budget is due on the governor’s
desk by 6pm on May 7.

On a personal note, I wanted to thank the following people for visiting my office this week:
  • Jim Maurer and Wayne Wallingford from Cape Girardeau
  • Eric Michelsen from Oran
  • Julie Hodges, Pam Dowe, Karen Bain, Natalie Kirk, Nancy Robey and Mark Savage from Sikeston
It is always a pleasure to have friends, neighbors, and constituents visit. If anyone from the 160th district is in or around Jefferson City, please stop by my office and say “hello.”

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