Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft late Tuesday lashed out at a judge who struck down key portions of the state’s voter ID law. Earlier this month, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan tossed out a requirement for voters who don’t present a photo ID to sign an affidavit in order to cast a regular ballot in elections.
Friday, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the state’s emergency motion for a stay. Then Tuesday, Callahan ordered Ashcroft’s office to send a copy of his judgment to local election authorities.
Ashcroft said Callahan’s latest move guts Missouri’s photo ID law as crafted by the state Legislature. The secretary of state had, until Tuesday’s order, interpreted Callahan’s ruling as applying only to the state while local election authorities could still enforce the requirement to sign the affidavit. But Callahan’s latest hand down eliminates that reading of his judgment.
The Republican Secretary of State noted Callahan had struck down a photo ID law in 2006 and said the judge has once again thwarted the clear desire of Missourians to secure their elections.
The 2006 law had no provision allowing voters to sign an affidavit and still cast a regular ballot. It simply required a photo ID, which, after Judge Callahan, was also struck down that year by the Missouri Supreme Court.
The affidavit says the voter acknowledges that he or she doesn’t possess a photo ID and states that he or she is required to present approved photo ID in order to vote. It also specifies that the person signing the document does so under penalty of perjury.
Callahan called the affidavit an “outright misstatement of law.” He said the requirement for a voter to sign the document is a violation of a citizen’s right to vote that’s guaranteed under the Missouri Constitution.
His revised order ensures that local election officials are instructed to allow voters to cast regular ballots in November’s election if they present non-photo forms of ID such as a voter registration card, utility bill, bank statement or college ID.
Ashcroft, a Republican, made the voter ID law a central theme of his 2016 election campaign.
A motion by the attorney general’s office on his behalf to appeal Judge Callahan’s ruling is still pending before the state Supreme Court.
Tuesday, Ashcroft expressed disbelief that Callahan has somehow upheld the current law’s constitutionality but prohibited its enforcement in the upcoming election.
The component of the new law that remains in effect allows voters who show no ID at the polls to cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot would be validated if the voter returned to the polling place later with a photo ID, or if the voter’s signature matched their signature on file in voter registration records.
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