Ajudge has struck down a key provision of Missouri’s new voter ID law, specifying that people who don’t have a photo ID but have another form of identification can vote without signing an affidavit. The state Supreme Court has declined to intervene. That, hopefully, is that.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the state’s top election official and an outspoken supporter of the voter ID law, says he’s disappointed in the judge’s ruling. So are we. We’d have preferred this mischievous law had been declared unconstitutional in its entirety, instead of just having its most onerous component gutted.
As it stands, voters in two weeks still will be required to jump through unnecessary hoops to engage in their most important right and duty as citizens. Confusion about the requirement is still likely to be an issue at polling places. It’s now incumbent upon duly registered voters to understand the rules still in place and vote.
Missouri’s voter ID law is part of the GOP’s nationwide effort to legitimize the partisan fantasy of widespread voter fraud. Republicans from President Donald Trump down to state legislatures have done everything they can to impede voter turnout among minorities, the poor, young people and others likely to vote Democratic — all on the unfounded premise that fraudulent voting is a serious problem in modern elections.
It isn’t. You’re already required to register with your address to vote, and that system apparently works just fine, given the scarcity of cases of voter impersonation. In Missouri, Ashcroft has been able to identify just one such case as justification for a law that complicates the process for every voter in the state.
The photo ID requirement may sound harmless, but it’s a barrier to people who don’t drive or have any other need of one. It’s telling that the law’s supporters had to create a backup measure for people without photo IDs, allowing them to bring an alternate document like a utility bill and sign an affidavit saying they don’t have an ID.
All of this, remember, is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan’s ruling strikes down the affidavit requirement. So now, you can vote without a photo ID if you have a utility bill or something else with your address on it, period. If you have no documentation at all when you get to the polling place, you can still cast a provisional ballot and come back later with proof of address. Did we mention that this is all a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?