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Friday, June 9, 2017

ACLU Files Suit Over Missouri Voter ID Law

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 8:19 AM

The Missouri law that mandates photo ID or other enhanced identification to cast a ballot is unconstitutional, the ACLU alleges — and it filed suit yesterday in Cole County to block its implementation.

The suit, filed by the advocacy group on behalf of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Missouri, seeks a temporary restraining order to stop the law from being enforced in the St. Louis election set for July 11. (That's the special election to fill the 28th ward aldermanic seat vacated by Lyda Krewson.)

The voter ID law was passed by the Missouri legislature in 2016. It requires that anyone casting a ballot in the state have a non-expired driver's license or other photo identification issued by either the state or federal government.

But though the law included funding for voter education and poll worker training, as well as provisions to give non-drivers free voter IDs and birth certificates, the ACLU says that simply hasn't happened.

As the suit details, the Missouri secretary of state said he'd need $4.25 million to implement the new law properly. Costs could exceed $11 million, he noted.

Yet the bill to fund the new provisions earmarked just $1.7 million, and even that is still awaiting the governor's signature. In the mean time, little has been done to get voters ready for the new rules, much less ready the local governments that will have to assist them in tracking down the right documents for the required IDs.

Per the suit,
As of today, $100,000 has been appropriated to the Department of Revenue for implementation of the new law—only $80,000 of which is from General Revenue; no funds have yet been appropriated to the Secretary of State for implementation responsibilities; and no funds have been appropriated to any other agency of the state, to the courts, or to any political subdivision to implement the new law.
And that, the lawsuit argues, will leave groups like the League of Women Voters and the NAACP picking up the slack: "As a result of the failure of the legislature to provide a sufficient appropriation of state funds from the general revenue for the purpose of paying the costs associated with implementation ..., Plaintiffs have been and will be required to shift their resources to do for their members and the public what [the new law] mandates that the state do."

“States are not allowed to make an end run around voting rights by forcing burdensome changes to election law and then failing to provide the required funding for proper implementation,” Sophia Lakin, an attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

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