Missouri’s new Voter Photo ID law is back in court today, with a twist. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has granted a request by the sponsor of the bill, Senator Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City), to officially become a part of the team defending the law. Scott points out the Secretary of State’s attorney isn’t defending the law and has told Callahan she agrees with those bringing suit against it. Scott says the Attorney General’s office doesn’t have the election expertise to mount a strong defense. Scott says his lawyer, Thor Hearne of St. Louis, will emphasize the legislative process taken to arrive at the final product that was signed into law by Governor Blunt. He says Hearne also has expertise in election law that the assistant Attorneys General lack. During the first court hearing the Attorney General’s office had no objection to Scott entering the case. The plaintiffs in the case did object. Two lawsuits have been filed against the law that requires voters present identification with a photograph to vote. One lawsuit claims the law violates the Hancock Amendment to the state constitution which prohibits the state from enacting an unfunded mandate. That suit charges that the law imposes significant costs on local election authorities and, therefore, should be declared unconstitutional. The other lawsuit claims that the new law disenfranchises thousands of Missourians. The State Department of Revenue estimates there are 170,000 Missourians who do not have driver’s licenses, one form of photo identification that would meet the law’s requirements. The Secretary of State’s office has issued its own number, which is considerably higher at 240,000. The law instructs the Department of Revenue to offer free identifications to those without them. The department reports it has 25 mobile units available to visit nursing homes, senior centers, sheltered workshops and centers for independent living. Democrats, who strongly oppose the law, have been very critical of the Revenue Department’s efforts and claim there isn’t enough time for the department to make the free identification cards available to everyone who needs one. This is the second day of testimony in the two lawsuits filed against Voter Photo ID. Another court date is set for Wednesday.
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