Missouri high court considers voter photo ID cases

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Missouri [official website] heard oral arguments [case materials] Wednesday in two appeals challenging the September 14 ruling [JURIST report] that a state law [SB 1014 text, PDF; summary] requiring voters to show a Missouri-issued photo identification at the polls [Missouri Dept. of Revenue backgrounder] violates the state constitution [text]. The judges discussed whether the requirement constituted an impermissible additional requirement that placed an undue burden on voters, effectively keeping them from the polls [JURIST report]. The $15 fee for obtaining a birth certificate, which is necessary for the issuance of a voter ID card or a driver's license, is the cheapest option for voters who do not currently have the identification required under the legislation. Judges expressed concern over the effect on the elderly and disabled, many of whom do not have driver's licenses or passports, including retired Supreme Court Judge Charles Blackmar, who pointed out that he could not vote under the new law since he does not have a current license. Attorneys arguing for the law's reinstatement, identified a provision in the bill that accounts for such voters by allowing provisional ballots, but opponents countered that the ballots are not available in all elections and would increase expenses for local election officials.

The voter ID legislation was scheduled to require identification in the upcoming November 7 elections, but the Court did not say whether it would decide the issue before the elections. Last week, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that would require voter ID cards for federal elections [JURIST report] starting in 2008. Similar voter ID bills have recently been blocked in Georgia and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports], while a state court in June upheld Arizona's voter ID requirement [JURIST report]. AP has more.

 

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