Court rules parts of Missouri voter ID law as unconstitutional

Updated: Jan. 17, 2020 at 5:08 AM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - 2020 is a big election year, but you will not be seeing Missouri’s “Show it to Vote Campaign” after a recent court decision.

Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, Jan. 14 that requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot is unconstitutional.

Election officials in Cape Girardeau County said the results only change certain provisions in the voter ID law, but the overall law itself is still in place.

“Voter identification is still required to go vote and it is still really accessible to voters to go vote on election day,” Allen Seabaguh the supervisor of elections in Cape Girardeau County said.

“The three options that we have in place: photo ID, non-photo ID as well as a provisional ballot is very encompassing," Seabaugh added. "It should allow any voter who is a registered voter to vote.”

However, the court ruling did bar the Secretary of States office from saying photo ID’s are a requirement to vote.

Also, if a voter can still prove their name and current address with a form of non-photo ID they no longer have to sign a state mandated statement.

The voter ID law passed in 2016 by 63 percent of the vote.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said that support backs up his belief that the voting ID law is constitutional.

“The people of Missouri made it clear in November of 2016 that it is reasonable to require a photo ID to vote,” Ashcroft said. “That voter ID law strengthened protections at the ballot box and, just as importantly, expanded access to the ballot ensuring registered voters would no longer be turned away on Election Day.”

A voting rights organization in Cape Girardeau agrees with the court ruling.

“If you don’t have a photo ID, don’t feel like you have to have one in order to get out there and cast that ballot,” said Shannon McNew a member of the League of Women Voters of Southeast Missouri.

McNew is glad Missouri courts are revisiting the voter ID law. She believes that stressing photo ID’s as a requirement to vote can cause confusion and could result in lower turnout.

“With that photo ID it adds another layer of difficulty for some individuals," McNew said. "It’s a huge issue in our area. The elderly, the low income voters, even students, so it just makes them hesitant and anything that is going to make them hesitant to go out and cast that ballot we want to avoid.”

Seabaugh said there are five elections in Cape Girardeau County this year and the first step to preparing for it is to check your registration.

“Any voter who has moved, or changed their name has to update their information with us,” Seaubaugh said. “Voters should be getting a new voter identification card over the next week, and they can use that card for elections this year and next year.”

Other forms of ID accepted at the polls include a government issued photo ID like a drivers license, passport, or military ID, as well as any government documents with your name and current address on it such as a bank statement or utility bill.

As a last resort voters have a third option to cast a provisional ballot, and the Secretary of State’s office said more than 90 percent of provisional ballots are accepted in the final count.

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