Senate Bill 594, which would require voter ID in Missouri, is awaiting debate in the Senate.
The sponsor of SB594 is Republican Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit.
As our guest for “This Week,” Senator Kraus makes his case as to why he wants his bill to become the law.
Here is a transcript of our conversation:
Senator Will Kraus: When somebody cheats the system, and tries to cheat the system like they did in Kinloch, Missouri, like where 27 people voted from an abandoned building owned by the city, they’re disenfranchising everyone else that followed the rules of that election. So, just requiring an ID verifies who that person is. And I think a simple thing we should require at our polls. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s common sense.
Joey Parker: One of the problems, they say, it’s cost-prohibitive for some voters to be able to get an ID. But, you say you’ve built something into you bill on that.
Senator Will Kraus: Our bill is going to make sure that we pay for anybody’s ID that is required and then even go a step further. If you need a birth certificate to get that ID we will pay for the birth certificate as well. We want to make sure that this bill is as transparent as possible and allows people to get the ID that they need to vote. Now, I don’t think that there is a big number of people out there that don’t have an ID. I think when Kansas passed it the first four years only 500 people applied for free ID.
Joey Parker: Now, what about folks who say, who are uncomfortable with papers? More papers to show when you go to vote.
Senator Will Kraus: You know you already have to show some form of ID, this is just saying that it has to be a photo ID.
Joey Parker: You want the secretary of state to be able to investigate and enforce voter fraud and others, this is also an office you seek.
Senator Will Kraus: Right.
Joey Parker: Are those related?
Senator Will Kraus: No, we identify the fact that currently Missouri has an “F” rating with the Center for Integrity and they basically have said “hey, the secretary of state has no way to enforce current law. They can just watch it, so what we are doing with this bill. And by the way, it passed the Senate this week and it’s moved over to the House. It allows the secretary of state to investigate voter fraud and in situations that happen, like right here in Boone County, right probable cause. No one will right the probable cause for Boone County and they went to the secretary of state’s office and he said “nope you don’t have the authority to do that.” So with this bill they will give the authority to the secretary of state to rite that probable cause. And if the local prosecute chooses not to do it, they can appoint the secretary of state as a special prosecutor and they can prosecute that. It puts teeth behind the law.
Joey Parker: Democrat Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur says that it is giving the power of the attorney general’s office the secretary of state. What do you say about that?
Senator Will Kraus: You know, if you look at it, the chief election officer is the secretary of state. This cuts bureaucracy and allows the secretary of state to handle it all in house.
Joey Parker: Another thing you are talking about is a bill that will deal with Fourth Amendment issues with this device that is called a Stingray device. And a lot of folks don’t know what exactly that is. It has to do with your cell phone and a way of picking up your signal and intercepting data. Maybe you have a better way of describing it.
Senator Will Kraus: The police are using it right now and there is no restriction without a warrant. So what they do is they go out and set up this artificial cell site and it pings and your cell phone information is then collected with it. All I am trying to do here is to make sure that there are some stipulations on when they use that. If they are using it for just general purposes, they need a warrant. And if they are using it to protect a child or in the case of a terrorist attack or something like that, by all means, go ahead and use those. But it has to be under certain circumstances they can use it and under other circumstances we need them to get a warrant. The Federal government already ruled on it. The Supreme Court already ruled on this that your cell phone is part of your Fourth Amendment rights and you are protected under undo search and seizure. And that’s what this bill is trying to do. I think technology has gotten ahead of us and this bill is just moving us into the 21st Century.
Joey Parker: The same principle that makes it tough to enforce texting and driving. A police officer can’t just say “let me see your phone, unlock it and let me see what’s been going on.”
Senator Will Kraus: Right. They can’t do that without a warrant.
Joey Parker: What are we going to look for as the Senate reconvenes next week?
Senator Will Kraus: So, I think the budget is almost done. I think we might be getting to the budget and then just continue to move on senate bills. We are at that point. I think in the next two weeks you will see the budget get completed and then go to conference and get it fully done before the end of April.
Joey Parker: Any big challenges before the end of this session that you see?
Senator Will Kraus: Big challenges? Voter ID is going to be a big challenge. I think that’s a hurdle. We did pass initial approval this week on a 6 cent fuel tax. It’s actually 5.9 cents on every gallon. So that’s an interesting thing. It’ll be third-read next week in the Senate and then potentially move to the House if it has the votes.
Joey Parker: 17 cents a gallon for a fuel is one of the lowest in the nation. Many folks don’t realize that MoDOT doesn’t get all of that money. They have to split that with local municipalities, the county, the city. They have to give some of this money away so it’s not even all going to the roads.
Senator Will Kraus: Right.
Joey Parker: But a lot of folks are calling for MoDOT to be more responsible.
Senator Will Kraus: Voters have voted before not to increase funding for MoDOT. This is one more proposal that’s out there for funding for our roads and last time it was a sales tax. This time it’s a fuel tax.
Joey Parker: Senator Will Kraus, we hope to have you back.
Senator Will Kraus: Joey, thank you for having me.
Joey Parker: Thank you.