YOUR LETTERS: Missouri voter ID laws aim to disenfranchise at the polls

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In January, the Missouri Supreme Court reaffirmed that a photo ID requirement to vote is unconstitutional. So, now lawmakers are trying to change the Missouri constitution to require a photo ID to vote and eliminate the non-photo ID option voters can use now.  This would strip Missourians of their fundamental rights.

Now, with House Joint Resolution (HJR) 109, lawmakers want to take away that constitutional protection. This would weaken protection for the fundamental constitutional right to vote. The Missouri Supreme Court has found that that right to vote is “at the core of Missouri’s constitution” in Weinschenk v. State, 203 S.W.3d 201 (Mo. 2006). HJR 109 would take that away. The constitution should be altered in only the most compelling of circumstances. None exist here.

“At heart, voter ID requirements are designed to make it harder to vote – particularly for people of color, young voters, seniors, and voters with disabilities. The effect is magnified when the state fails to uphold its end of the bargain to ensure that voters are informed about the rules,” said Denise Lieberman, Coordinator and General Counsel for the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, counsel for the NAACP in its challenge to Missouri’s photo ID requirement. “Invariably, the state’s failure to do so means the burden falls on the backs of voters.”

More than 200,000 valid Missouri voters who lack a DMV-issued photo ID, the lack of a single case of voter impersonation fraud in the state, and the costs and difficulties getting or correcting the underlying documents necessary to get a state-issued ID are why the Missouri Supreme Court has concluded that a strict voter ID requirement is unconstitutional.

The NAACP has long raised concerns about Missouri’s efforts to implement a voter ID law, and it is one of the reasons we have issued a travel advisory for the state.

NIMROD CHAPEL
President, Missouri State Conference of the NAACP

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