Missouri Judge Says Voters No Longer Need Photo Identification To Cast Vote

Hanna Bogorowski | Reporter

A Missouri state judge ruled Tuesday that state election officials can no longer require voters to show photo identification at the polls, thus blocking key parts of the state’s voter identification law.

Senior Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said Tuesday that state election officials cannot advertise that a photo identification is required to cast a ballot.

“No compelling state interest is served by misleading local election authorities and voters into believing a photo ID card is a requirement for voting,” Callahan’s ruling said, according to Reuters.

The judge’s ruling comes after a lawsuit from a Democratic party super PAC, Priorities USA, against the state of Missouri’s “burdensome photo identification requirements” in June of 2018.

“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,” Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a press release.

Cecil was referring to a Missouri state law, HB 1681, that was enacted in 2016 and requires voter identification at the polls.

Tuesday’s ruling does not completely invalidate the law, but it does also state that election officials can no longer require those who do lack a photo ID to sign a sworn statement on their identity and provide another form of identification in order to vote.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said the law is an effort to weed out voter fraud, saying in a January press release that “Missouri’s voter ID law is simple. If you’re registered to vote, you can vote.”

After Tuesday’s developments, Ashcroft said he plans to appeal the ruling, believing a higher court will overturn the decision, The Associated Press reported.

The Missouri judge’s decision to roll back portions of the voter ID law comes less than a month before the November’s general elections. (RELATED: Supremes Clear Way For Voter ID Requirement In Key Senate Race)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled essentially the opposite Tuesday, permitting a North Dakota law requiring voters to show government ID and a current residential street address when casting ballots.

North Dakota argued, similarly to Ashcroft, that the law improves the administration of elections and avoids fraud, but a dissenting argument said it imposes unnecessary burdens on certain groups, such as Native Americans who live on reservations and don’t necessarily have residential addresses.

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