Proponents are suing Missouri’s Photographic Voter Identification Act

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri League of Women Voters, the state NAACP and two voters sued Wednesday to block a voter photo ID requirement.

The groups are asking a judge to throw out the new law before it goes into effect on Sunday, claiming it unconstitutionally restricts voting rights by restricting which IDs could be used to cast regular ballots.

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

The organizations sued Monday to block another provision in the measure that bans payment for anyone helping with voter registration and requires those volunteers to be self-registered voters in Missouri. Anyone helping to register more than 10 voters must register with the Secretary of State’s office.

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

Under the law, those without government-issued photo ID can cast provisional ballots, which will be counted when they return later in the day with photo ID or when election officials verify their signatures.

Proponents argued that even with government help, getting the right ID to vote was not easy.

Missouri Voter Protection Coalition director Denise Lieberman said the task of obtaining proper identification to vote will “place a burden on thousands of Missouri voters who do not have limited identification or will have difficulty obtaining the required identification to cast a regular ballot.” to obtain the requisite limited identification—disproportionately black voters, senior citizens, 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 work to lower the barriers to participation for these communities, not make it harder to vote,” Lieberman said in a statement.

The Missouri attorney general’s office, which defends state statutes against legal challenges, did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit cites two Missouri women who do not have state photo identification. One faces bureaucracy after her name was misspelled on her non-driver’s government-issued photo ID. The other woman does not drive a car because she suffers from epilepsy and mobility problems. She has an expired non-driver’s license, which she argues she only needs to renew to be able to vote.

The GOP-led Missouri Legislature passed 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-hit 2020 election. Many Republicans have pursued new voting restrictions following former President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states besides Missouri had photo-identification laws in effect this spring, and 19 states had identification laws that accepted evidence other than photographs. Proponents are suing Missouri’s Photographic Voter Identification Act

Sarah Y. Kim

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