Missouri Pushes Voter ID, Birther Bill

HB 121 has some more hoops to jump through, and will need voter approval to go into effect.

By Channing Kennedy May 06, 2011

My home state, Missouri, is embarrassingly behind on trends. Most anti-Obama where’s-the-birth-certificate conspiracy theorists have given up and moved on to suggesting Obama is secretly stupid. But the Missouri House of Representatives passed a ‘birther bill’ yesterday, requiring "verifiable evidence of identity and proof of natural born citizenship" from presidential nominees. 

Teresa Cotsirilos and James Steed, writing at Salon’s War Room blog, describe the provision thus:

At first glance, HB 121 appears to be a standard update of Missouri election procedure, but provision 8 of the bill would require presidential and vice-presidential nominees to submit proof of citizenship to Missouri’s secretary of state. State Rep. Lyle Rowland, who sponsored the bill, claims that the provision is intended to keep illegal immigrants* from taking over the White House, just in case "something were to happen where one of them became popular with the people."

Like all birther bills, this one’s made redundant by existing candidate certification law — but it’s a great way to appear tough on immigrants. Something else that’s "standard" about HB 121 is that it contains the same voter ID requirements that Missouri legislative sessions have been pushing for years. Voter ID laws have popped up in Republican state governments across the country; as Jamilah wrote back in January, they’re an established method of suppressing the votes of poor people, students, and people of color.

HB 121 has some more hoops to jump through, and will need voter approval to go into effect as part of a state constitutional amendment. Since non-presidential elections skew towards low turnouts and conservative voters, it’s got a decent chance of becoming real, though similar bills have been struck down in Missouri’s recent past.

* At Colorlines, we only use the term "illegal immigrants" in quotes, and we encourage other publications to drop the i-word as well.