A new lawsuit was recently filed challenging photo ID requirements imposed on voters in Missouri as part of a sweeping list of changes to the way of conducting elections in the state.
None of these changes were connected to any real-world problems with systematic election integrity, since such issues don’t exist. There’s no epidemic of voters casting illegal ballots because they showed up at polling places and exploited looser rules for voter ID. Yet, Republicans pushed ahead with this change, and around the country, Republican state officials continue sticking by other alterations to the electoral process that similarly don’t respond to real-world problems. The new lawsuit is from the Missouri NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and a pair of individual voters in Missouri, and the case alleges that the newly imposed rules for photo ID are in violation of provisions of the state Constitution.
Previously, Missouri residents could identify themselves for the purpose of voting with, among other examples, voter registration cards and utility statements. The new standards demanding photo ID for all in-person voting in Missouri, despite the lack of real-world evidence that such a change is urgently needed, come with guidelines by which voters who don’t have the required form of ID can cast so-called provisional ballots, but according to data cited in the lawsuit, such ballots often go uncounted. In this scenario, voters who cast a provisional ballot because they lacked the needed ID can show back up on the same day with an appropriate form of identification and get their ballot counted. Alternatively, a local elections official can match a signature submitted by a voter casting a provisional ballot to a signature that’s already on file, although the signature-matching process often proves inherently uneven.
The lawsuit says the signature-matching process is “arbitrary, standardless,
and unreliable.” As summarized by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, the new lawsuit references a pair of past court battles in Missouri in which judges ultimately struck down strict voter identification requirements. One of the decisions is from 2020. The new voter ID rules went into effect in late August, presumably with plenty of time for the restrictions to cover the November elections. The lawsuit also cites a lengthy list of groups who “disproportionately lack one of the acceptable forms of a non-expired photo ID to vote and face significant barriers to obtaining one,” including “racial minorities, people living in poverty, rural Missourians, students, senior citizens, Missourians with disabilities, Missourians returning from incarceration, [and] unhoused Missourians.”
“The Voter ID Restrictions substantially and severely burden the fundamental right to vote by restricting the ability to cast a regular ballot to only those who possess certain limited, narrow forms of photo ID, by imposing unnecessary obstacles to voting for the population of Missourians who lack an acceptable form of photo ID, and by requiring civic organizations to expend and divert resources educating their members and the public about the new Voter ID Restrictions,” the lawsuit claims. The case also expounds upon the unnecessary nature of the measures.