State supreme court upholds ruling on Missouri voter ID law

6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Tuesday, January 14 2020 Jan 14, 2020 Tuesday, January 14, 2020 2:18:00 PM CST January 14, 2020 in News
By: Steve Lambson, KOMU 8 News Content Manager

JEFFERSON CITY - The Supreme Court of Missouri upheld a ruling Tuesday that part of the voter ID law, which took effect in 2017, is unconstitutional.

The voter ID law as passed gives three options for voters to present personal identification in order to cast a ballot: 

  • A Missouri driver or non-driver license, passport or military ID
  • Non-photo identification permitted under the law before the Voter ID law took effect, along with an affidavit the person with the ID is the same one voting
  • Sworn statement the individual is the registered voter, with the caveat the ballot will be counted only if the voter returns with an ID from Option 1 or if the "election authority determines" the voter's signature on the ballot is the same as on file

Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit saying parts of the measure were unconstitutional. Following the 2018 trial over the case, Judge Richard Callahan said the affidavit requirement is reasonable, but the affidavit provided by the state was "contradictory and misleading." Callahan prohibited use of the affidavit and other materials suggesting photographic identification is required for voting. He said the affidavit requirement infringed on a citizen’s right to vote under the state constitution.

In its ruling Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld Callahan's ruling, saying the affidavit requirement is unconstitutional and the circuit court didn't act improperly in barring the state from disseminating materials indicating photo ID is needed to vote.

"While the state has a legitimate interest in combating voter fraud by verifying a voter’s identity and eligibility to vote, requiring an individual to sign a misleading, contradictory affidavit to vote under option two is not a reasonable means to accomplish that goal," the opinion said.

Two judges dissented with the Supreme Court's opinion, saying while the affidavit requirement may be contradictory, it shouldn't have been barred completely. They also said they found the materials about the new law to not be misleading, and therefore the state shouldn't have been barred from disseminating them.

You can read the court's full opinion here.

The Missouri Secretary of State's Office released the following statement after Tuesday's ruling:

 “The people of Missouri made it clear in November of 2016 that it is reasonable to require a photo ID to vote,” Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said.  “That voter ID law strengthened protections at the ballot box and, just as importantly, expanded access to the ballot ensuring registered voters would no longer be turned away on Election Day.”

A news release from the Secretary of State's Office said despite several lawsuits challenging the voter ID law, opponents have failed to bring forth a single voter who was unable to vote as a result of the voter ID requirements."

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