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St. Louis organizations help Missourians sign up for photo IDs needed to vote

The Missouri legislature passed HB 1878 and this new law takes effect Sunday.

ST. LOUIS — Right now in Missouri, advocates are suing the state of Missouri and the secretary of state to block its new photo identification requirement for voters.

The Missouri legislature passed HB 1878, which takes effect Sunday.

Just this week, the Missouri League of Women Voters and Missouri NAACP filed back-to-back lawsuits demanding change.

On Monday, the agencies sued to block another provision with voter engagement efforts.

  • This bans payment for anyone who works to help register voters and requires volunteers to be registered Missouri voters themselves
  • Anyone who helps register more than 10 voters needs to sign up with the secretary of state’s office

On Wednesday, the two organizations along with two voters filed another lawsuit to block the photo identification requirement for voters.

RELATED: Advocates sue to block Missouri voter photo ID law

This law requires Missourians to show unexpired government-issued photo IDs.

This means student IDs and voter registration cards are not allowed.

President of the League of Women Voters of Missouri Marilyn McCloud called the new law unconstitutional since Missouri's constitution guarantees the right to vote. 

"It restricts the kinds of ID to just a few types," she said of the new law.

President of St. Louis' NAACP, Adolphus Pruitt, worries about marginalized groups, students from out-of-state and voters with disabilities.

"We know this will impact some seniors or people who got a divorce, name changes. You got people re-located to this state and documentation required to get an ID is somewhere else," Pruitt said.

Many Republicans have pursued these new voting restrictions following the 2020 election, saying they are trying to prevent voter impersonation.

However, advocates believe elections are safe and secure.

While the lawsuit is in limbo, organizations try to share the right information in the meantime.

The work

On a busy Thursday afternoon at the Hub, organizers help file paperwork and hand over vital resources to folks.

Nonprofit Ashrei Foundation with the help of St. Francis Xavier College Church at SLU tries to empower potential voters at its first photo ID clinic.

Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at College Church and she said since the mid-1990s, the organization has been doing a weekly ID program.

That's why it's helping Ashrei work through the logistics.

"Payment is a big thing that I've been hearing and just getting together those documents, proof of Missouri residency can be an issue," she said. "Even more complicated situations, people’s names are incorrect and calling state agencies to figure out those documents."

Dragonette said with this new law, they are committed now more than ever to help.

What's next

If you are interested in learning more about getting an ID, the Ashrei Foundation is hosting another clinic on Sept. 10.

At this event, there will also be a Resource Fest with free school supplies and health resources.

Credit: Ashrei Foundation

St. Francis Xavier College Church also has a weekly clinic every Tuesday. 

Credit: College Church Outreach Program

To get more details on a free photo ID or any more information from the state's website, click here.

As the new law takes effect, the website will be updated to reflect the new changes.

As far as what's next, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri are representing the plaintiffs.

The ACLU of Missouri shared this statement saying they believe they could win and it's also requested a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit:

Of course we believe we can and will win both lawsuit. The provisions of the omnibus voter restriction bill that we challenged are clear violations of the Missouri Constitution. Restricting and criminalizing civic minded volunteers’ and non-partisan organizations’ efforts to sign up voters and encourage people to exercise their right to vote violates their freedom of speech. Regarding the voter ID restrictions, the Missouri constitution establishes a fundamental right to vote and equal protection under the law. The removal of previously acceptable identification creates an immediate unnecessary burden that will impact more than 200,000 Missourians who lack a non-expired state or federal photo ID, with voters of color, seniors, and voters with disabilities being the least likely to have an acceptable ID.

We have requested a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit to block the restrictions and criminalization of voter registration efforts. With the October 12th voter registration deadline looming, it is crucial that the court put a stop to this law going into effect.

For the voter identification restrictions, we plan to request an expedited trial ahead of the November General Elections which will need to be granted by a judge. While we are doing everything possible to ensure these extreme laws do not go into effect, litigation can take time. Missouri voters need to be prepared and make sure they have the appropriate documents so they can vote and hold lawmakers accountable.

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