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.

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