In 2016 the republican controlled General Assembly overrode then Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto of HB 1631, a more restrictive voter photo ID law.
“…my position is we should make voting available to as many people as we possibly can. I mean, and we should make it as easy as we possibly can for people to vote. Uh, and, uh, so we’re reviewing this, this is relatively similar to a measure that I vetoed a few years ago, uh, that would have, uh, made it very expensive and difficult, especially for senior citizens and others that didn’t have driving privileges to, uh, to get a separate state issued ID. So, um, it’s not an area that my, my general philosophy is let’s make voting, uh, easier for folks, um, so this kind of, uh, comes at that…” – Governor Jay Nixon (D), on HB 1631, June 16, 2016
“…I’m not, I’m gonna let you get back now to today’s opening ceremonies because I know I’m not who you came to hear and I know that none of this was what you wanted to hear. But I am your Secretary of State for a bit little longer, and as a result I feel a responsibility to tell you that even though you have the power to take away the right to vote from the citizens of Missouri, you shouldn’t.
And that if you choose to follow the example of Wisconsin or North Carolina, well then, I guess we’ll see you in court. [applause]” – Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), January 4, 2017
That has come to pass.
Today Priorities USA filed a suit in Circuit Court in Cole County over Missouri’s voter ID law:
June 13, 2018 | Press Release
Priorities USA and a Missouri Voter File Suit Against Missouri’s Burdensome Strict Photo ID Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2018
Washington, DC — Today, Priorities USA and a Missouri voter filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cole County against the State of Missouri and its Secretary of State, John R. Ashcroft, requesting that the court restrain the Secretary from enforcing the state’s burdensome photo identification requirements in upcoming elections and declare that these requirements violate the Missouri Constitution.
In 2016, the Missouri General Assembly passed HB 1631, a bill containing new, burdensome photo identification requirements, over Governor Jay Nixon’s veto. HB 1631 lays out a narrow list of acceptable photo IDs that a voter must present in order to cast their ballot, along with an arduous process for eligible voters without photo ID that involves, at various stages, signing a confusing and misleading sworn statement under penalty of perjury, returning to the polling place with acceptable ID, or having untrained individuals match signatures in order to verify the voter’s identity.
A study conducted by the Missouri Secretary of State in 2014 indicated that the implementation of a comparable photo ID law could disenfranchise 220,000 eligible Missouri voters. The complaint filed today argues that HB 1631 would have similar effects, given the time and effort required to obtain even a free state-issued photo ID and the labyrinthine procedures for voters who forget or are unable to bring their acceptable photo ID.
“When state lawmakers passed HB 1631, they began to chip away at Missourians’ fundamental right to vote,” said Guy Cecil, Chairman of Priorities USA. “The Missouri Supreme Court rightfully found an earlier attempt to do the same thing unnecessary and unfair to Missouri voters. The legislature should not be permitted to evade the law and burden voting rights. In order to ensure that everyone in Missouri who wants to cast a ballot is able to do so, Priorities USA and many others will have to spend significant time, money and effort to educate Missourians about these new, onerous photo ID requirements. We’re asking the court to enjoin this law before the upcoming elections, and we look forward to our day in court when we’ll show HB 1631 to be the unconstitutional farce that it is.”
The lawsuit filed today comes on the heels of separate litigation brought about by the Missouri NAACP, which challenged HB 1631 on the grounds that the state did not provide adequate funding for the new photo ID requirements. While Priorities USA is not involved in the NAACP lawsuit and is presenting the court with a different legal argument based on the constitutionality of HB 1631, Priorities remains supportive of the NAACP’s parallel efforts to invalidate the law.
Earlier this year, Priorities USA joined a lawsuit challenging Florida’s law requiring candidates of the governor’s political party to be listed in the first position on every ballot. The Priorities USA Foundation, an affiliated non-partisan group that engages in voting rights advocacy, has also supported litigation in Indiana, New Hampshire, Florida, and Iowa against laws and practices that restrict the right to vote.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (r) [2017 file photo].
A year ago at Show Me Progress:
…When asked about the appropriation of funds by the General Assembly to assist his office in communicating these new requirements to voters and to assist them in acquiring the photo IDs Secretary [of State John] Ashcroft [(r)] again deflected the question. A local newspaper reporter pointed out in his question to Secretary Ashcroft that there were only twenty people in the room and there are more than 20,000 people in Warrensburg. How is the Secretary of State’s office going to communicate the new ID requirements to those voters? The answer was somewhat vague, along the lines of “we’ll keep doing what we’re doing”. There was no discussion of any estimate of the number of registered voters in the state who do not have the required photo ID or of the costs associated with providing those voters with the proper ID…
Inadequate funding and insufficient notice? If only someone had thought of that a year ago. Oh, wait…
Gov. Jay Nixon (D): on SB 656 (“stand your ground”) and HJR 53/HB 1631 (voter ID) (June 16, 2016)
Gov. Jay Nixon: veto of HB 1631 – voter photo ID (July 7, 2016)
Secretary of State Jason Kander (D): at the opening of the legislative session (January 4, 2017)
Jay Ashcroft’s (r) voter photo ID tour – Warrensburg – June 16, 2017 (June 16, 2017)