Cole County Judge Jon Beetum has granted a motion by Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to dismiss a lawsuit about requiring Missourians to show their ID to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters claiming the state hasn’t adequately provided education, poll worker training or funding for ID’s the law calls for. ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert tells Missourinet the fight isn’t over.
“Try as it may, the state cannot undermine voting rights by forcing onerous changes to election law and then compounding those burdens by failing to provide funding for proper implementation. We will appeal,” says Rothert.
The ACLU lawsuit cites Ashcroft requesting $5 million to cover costs for enacting the law, which went into effect last June. Instead, his office was allocated $1.5 million by the legislature. Ashcroft has said the money provided has been sufficient, and added that there are provisions to deal with any shortage of funding.
When the lawsuit was filed in the second week of June, the ACLU had hoped a judge would issue a temporary restraining order to block the law before two local special elections took place – one in southern Missouri’s New Madrid, and the other in St. Louis city. The judge declined to do so.
The organization has also said that voters’ rights are being threatened and strict voter ID laws result in a voter turnout decline of several percentage points.
Ashcroft, who ran on a platform promising a strong photo voter ID law, says the opposing organizations “found themselves fighting a law that in fact expanded voting access and provided registered voters greater opportunity to vote.”
“Missouri’s voter ID law is simple. If you’re registered to vote, you can vote,” says Ashcroft. “We followed the law, we expanded ballot access and we didn’t disenfranchise voters.”
The law requires voters to have a government issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport or military identification. People presenting other forms of ID previously allowed in Missouri, including voter registration cards, college ID’s and bank statements, are still given a normal ballot if they sign a statement. The statement says the voter acknowledges they don’t have the government issued photo ID, and informs them that they can get one at no charge.
Those presenting no ID are allowed to vote with a provisional ballot. Those votes will be counted if their signatures match up with their voter registrations.