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Advocates sue to block Missouri voter photo ID law

The core of the law requires voters to show unexpired government-issued photo IDs, meaning that student IDs and voter registration cards are not allowed.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri League of Women Voters, state NAACP and two voters on Wednesday sued to block a photo identification requirement for voters.

The groups asked a judge to toss out the new law before it takes effect Sunday, alleging that it unconstitutionally restricts voting rights by limiting which IDs can be used to cast regular ballots.

This is the second lawsuit filed this week by the Missouri NAACP and League of Women Voters challenging the law.

The organizations on Monday sued to block another provision in the measure that bans payment for anyone who works to help register voters and requires those volunteers to be registered Missouri voters themselves. Anyone who helps register more than 10 voters would need to sign up with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The core of the law requires voters to show unexpired government-issued photo IDs, meaning that student IDs and voter registration cards are not allowed. The ID requirements are at the center of the latest lawsuit.

Under the law, people without a government-issued photo ID can cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they return later that day with a photo ID or if election officials verify their signatures.

Advocates argued that, even with state help, getting the right ID to vote is not easy.

Missouri Voter Protection Coalition Director Denise Lieberman said the task of getting proper ID to vote will “burden thousands of Missouri voters who do not have or will face difficulty getting the limited ID required to cast a regular ballot — disproportionately voters of color, seniors, voters with disabilities, young voters, and low-wage workers.”

The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri are representing the plaintiffs.

“We should be working to reduce barriers to participation for these communities, not make it harder to vote,” Lieberman said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which defends state laws against legal challenges, declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.

The lawsuit cites two Missouri women who do not have state photo IDs. One has been struggling with bureaucratic hurdles after her name was misspelled on her non-driver's state photo ID card. The other woman does not drive because she has epilepsy and mobility issues. She has an expired non-driver's license that she argues she would only need to renew to vote.

Missouri’s GOP-led Legislature approved the law this year amid renewed national emphasis on election laws.

Democrats in many states have sought to expand voter access following widespread mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2020 elections. Many Republicans have pursued new voting restrictions following former President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Seventeen states besides Missouri had voter photo identification laws in effect as of this spring, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 19 states had identification laws that accepted proof other than photos.

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

Credit: Ashrei Foundation

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