FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2018
Priorities USA and a Missouri Voter File Suit Against Missouri’s Burdensome Strict Photo ID Law
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.