State Supreme Court judges hear arguments about whether a law requiring Missouirans to display a photo ID to vote should be in effect next month. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan struck down the law earlier, saying it was an infringement on the fundamental right to vote. The case before the court combines two lawsuits. One argues that the law would disinfranchise the more than 200,000 Missourians who don’t have a driver’s license. The other argues that the law enforces an unfunded mandate by requiring election authorities to deal with added costs without added compensation.
Retired Supreme Court Judge Charles Blackmar sat in for a judge who recused himself and pressed Attorney Thor Hearne on the cost of the Voter Photo ID law, which would require some to buy documents to obtain a free ID from the state, saying it smacked of a poll tax. Hearne flatly rejected such a characterization. Even if it isn’t a poll tax, opposing Attorney Don Downing argued it would require some to pay to vote, because some without proper ID would have to buy a birth certificate or other documents to obtain one of the free identification cards the state is issuing. A ruling is expected quickly to settle the issue well before the election.