Category Archives: Local

Missouri Judge Blocks Portions of State Voter ID Law

By MCNS Staffvote-here-sign

On Tuesday, a Missouri judge blocked parts of the state’s voter photo identification law, which could make it easier for some people to vote in the November election.

According to the Associated Press, the ruling prevents the state from advertising that the photo ID is required to vote. It also stops election officials from requiring that voters lacking photo ID sign a sworn statement while presenting some other form of identification to cast a regular ballot.

AP sources state that the permanent injunction issued by Senior Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan takes effect immediately. But Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says he will ask that the injunction be put on hold while he appeals the decision to a higher court.

The ruling may affect the outcome of the upcoming November elections, which feature a highly contested constitutional amendment measures toward legalizing marijuana sales and use, a minimum wage increase and US senate race between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Voter ID laws have been promoted by Republicans for decades in many states to supposedly prevent voter fraud. But most state voter fraud percentages remain in the lower single digits, with some even a fraction of a percent. Many progressives oppose voter ID laws and liken them to Jim Crow Era voter suppression tactics. They argue that voter ID laws are used to disenfranchise the vote for the people of color, the elderly, the disabled and the poor, who sometimes have trouble obtaining the required identification.

The AP states that Attorneys for Priorities USA, a Washington-based liberal advocacy group that sued on behalf of some Missouri voters, argued that more than 300,000 voters may lack valid photo identifications. According to local reports, as of last week, the state issued free photo identification cards to 1,456 voters who requested them.

Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil praised the ruling as “an important victory for voting rights that will ensure that future elections in the state are open and accessible to every eligible voter.”

Missouri’s current voter ID laws were activated in 2016 when the Republican-led legislature overrode then-Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. A 2016 vote approved the constitutional amendment intended to permit voter ID laws in the state. The law was not in affect for the 2016 elections.

The AP states that the law had allowed people lacking a photo ID to cast regular ballots if they show one of several non-photo forms of identification and sign sworn statements saying they don’t possess personal identification, understand they can get an ID for free from the state and acknowledge that personal identification is required to vote.

Callahan said the sworn statement is “contradictory and misleading” and “impermissibly infringes on a citizen’s right to vote as guaranteed under the Missouri Constitution.”

National reports indicate that it is not clear from Callahan’s ruling whether the secretary of state’s office could come up with a new version of the affidavit that could be required in elections. Otherwise, the ruling appears to allow people lacking photo IDs to nonetheless cast regular ballots if they show some other form of identification, such as a student ID card, utility bill, bank statement or paycheck that contains a home address.

The ruling leaves another option for people lacking identification to cast provisional ballots, which are counted if their signatures match those on file or they return later to show a photo ID.

Missouri Granted Extension for Federal ID Compliance-Again

By MCNS Staffimages

Missouri has been given another extension in order to comply with stricter requirements outlined by the federal Real ID Act.

Bridging the current extension, which is set to end on October 10th, the new grace period allows Missouri until January 21, 2019 to comply with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“During this grace period, federal agencies will accept Missouri-issued driver licenses and ID cards for official purposes, including domestic air travel,” Missouri Department of Revenue Director Joel Walters said, according to KMOV.com.

Compliance hangs on Missouri IDs meeting the conditions of proof-of-identity guidelines, needed at airports, some federal facilities and military bases.

Some Missouri lawmakers worried about privacy have held up compliance with federal law for years. A new Missouri law that took effect in August 2017 gives residents the option of obtaining new driver’s licenses or other identification that meets the federal requirements.

According to local reports, Missouri Department of Revenue officials expect the state to be compliant with the Real ID Act in March 2019.

Close the Workhouse Publishes Report-Calls to Shut it Down

The infamous St. Louis "Workhouse" on Hall Street.

The infamous St. Louis “Workhouse” on Hall Street.

By MCNS Staff

For years critics of the notorious St. Louis jail, commonly known as “The Workhouse,” have complained about its deplorable conditions. Detainees can be confined for months or over a year while awaiting trial for even minor and nonviolent offenses.

Advocates campaigning for the closing of the medium security jail on Hall Street point to squalid health conditions like black mold on the walls, rats, and triple-digit temperatures in the summer. They suggest that the prolonged detainment of inmates is a glaring example of the mass incarceration of Black people in the US.

According to a local story in the St. Louis American, the​ Close the Workhouse campaign calls for the immediate closure of the Workhouse, a reduced incarcerated population in St. Louis, and an overall reform to public safety. It provides statistics, along with several first-hand accounts of people who have served time in the Workhouse. It also makes direct calls to action to the mayor, the circuit attorney, and the Board of Aldermen.

According to its website, the Workhouse was built in 1966, is two-stories high, and has the capacity to hold 1138 inmates.

For more on the Close the Workhouse campaign, click here.

News of Banned Police List Leaks

By Free Radical

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner.

On Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released news that the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office has a list of police officers that are not allowed to bring cases to court.

The names of the officers were not identified nor were the infractions they committed that warranted them being placed on the list. However, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner alluded to impropriety in a statement explaining that “Police integrity is at the core of the community’s confidence in the criminal justice system. To do our jobs properly and legally, we must have confidence in the accuracy and honesty of the oral and written reports of police officers. A police officer’s word, and the complete veracity of that word, is fundamentally necessary to doing the job. Therefore, any break in trust must be approached with deep concern.”

The revelation of the list will likely cause tensions between the Circuit Attorney’s Office and the police to become even more strained. Since Gardner’s appointment in 2017, police officers have refused to testify in cases involving nonfatal police shootings over concerns that they too could be prosecuted. The Circuit Attorney’s also decided to drop nearly 30 misdemeanor and felony cases that involved an officer whose actions were deemed to be “questionable” and “unacceptable.”

Discomfort has also reached that of new police chief John Hayden who in a statement released Saturday said that the list had not been “properly vetted” and was an “unnecessary overreach.” However later that Saturday Gardner said she had “documented communications” about the list between her office and Major Michael Sack, who is the Commander of Professional Standards.