The State Supreme Court is deciding whether voters without a photo ID must sign a statement at the polls swearing they are who they say they are.
Last year, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan called the statement language contradictory and misleading and ruled to get rid of it in Missouri’s controversial 2016 voter ID law. The state appealed the ruling, leading to Thursday’s hearing before Missouri’s high court.
Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer said the court should let the Secretary of State change the writing, instead of scrapping the affidavit altogether.
“There was no evidence at trial of any individual voter who claimed that they were confused by the option 2 affidavit or found it contradictory,” said Sauer.
During the trial, two voters testified that they would not have signed the affidavit again because the language was confusing. Sauer said they still voted.
Attorney Mark Elias, for the left-leaning voter advocacy organization called Priorities USA, said expert testimony in the trial confirmed that voters would need a graduate level degree to understand the language.
“The Secretary of State promulgated this affidavit because this is what’s in the statute,” he says. “There is no affidavit the Secretary of State would be able to write under its limited grant authority that would not suffer the same problems.”
Sauer said if the court rules in favor of having the language rewritten, the issue will probably face another lawsuit anyways.
Under state law, Missourians can vote if they show a photo ID at their polling place. They can show another form of identification, including a utility bill, but must sign the affidavit. They can also cast a provisional ballot. Their vote would only count if they return to show ID or if poll workers can match their signatures on a past ballot.
The court could rule at any time.
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