Judge makes minor change to Missouri Voter ID law

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COLUMBIA - A Cole County circuit judge ruled Tuesday the state's Voter ID law applies to both state and county election and that authorities must comply with the law. Circuit judge Richard Callahan upheld that voters who do not have photo identification cannot be required to sign a sworn statement, the same standard that had already been applied to state elections. 

According to the amdended order and judgment, the House Bill 1631 passed in 2016 gave voters three options for providing identification when voting: 

  • Option 1: A current Missouri driver or non-driver license, current passport, or a military or veterans identification card
  • Option 2: Any of the non-photo forms of identification that were allowed under the previous law, with the requirement that the individual sign an affidavit under pain of perjury that they are the person on the identification
  • Option 3: A sworn statement on the provisional ballot envelope that the individual is the registered voter but allows the person to vote without presenting any form of identification, with the caveat that the ballot will only be counted if the individual voter returns with an Option One photo identification, or if the election authority determines that the voter’s signature on the provisional ballot matches the voter’s signature on file

Callahan's ruling only changes Option 2, removing the requirement to sign.

Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks, a Republican, said Boone County applied the state ruling to its election process when it came out earlier this month. 

"I hope voters realize the fundamental part of how they vote has not changed. What they do when they get to the polling place we manage, and we will assist the voter and they should see minimal impact," Burks said. 

Burks said people need to realize some parts of the Voter ID law were unconstitutional, so voters still need to bring an Option 1 or Option 2 ID. 

"Those are still needed to cast a regular ballot here in Boone County. None of that’s changed. It’s just the statement that we would have voters sign if they brought us an Option 2 ID," Burks said. 

Burks said the law is a good compromise for allowing photo ID's but having a process for voters without them. However, he said he "strongly opposes" changing the rules only two weeks before voters head to the polls.

"For those of us who run elections or voters who maybe only part-time pay attention to what the voting rules or voting laws are, when you change the rules this close to the election day, that’s when we have concerns about people understanding what they need or what they should be doing at the polls," Burks said. 

Burks' opponent in the Boone County Clerk race, Democrat Brianna Lennon, said the law provides clarity for voters and county election authorities. 

"I think this law is really great for reducing confusion about what kind of ID voters will need and allowing voters more options to show their ID," Lennon said. 

She said this law could increase voter turnout. 

"Anything, to me, that gets more voters out to the polls because they are encouraged and feel comfortable showing the ID that they have, is a good thing," Lennon said. 

Lennon also said public education is important.

"We need to have good information coming out of the clerk’s office and accurate information and that will kind of offset any kind of confusion," she said.

She said it is good timing for the ruling to come down. 

"I think today is a good time for that to happen that it can be integrated, and we need to make sure that it’s being integrated into poll worker training," Lennon said. 

Both candidates encourage registered voters to go to their assigned polling places on November 6.