JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the state of Missouri over its new Voter ID law.
The ACLU is challenging the Show-Me State in court, saying Missouri failed to provide adequate funding to implement the law. The funds are to be used for voter education, providing free voter identification and birth certificates, and training for poll workers. The new law took effect June 1.
The case was filed on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Missouri, who are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the law from remaining in effect during a local special election on July 11. In-person absentee voting begins Monday, June 12, and an additional 52 Missouri counties head to the polls on August 8.
“Voters were promised that this law was not about disenfranchising the most vulnerable in our state,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said. “The state’s lack of funding and implementation of this law tells another story.”
Opponents say that, as of now, the state has appropriated just a fraction of the amount necessary to cover these costs. As of June 8, $100,000 has been appropriated to the Department of Revenue, $80,000 of which comes from the state’s general revenue.
“States are not allowed to make an end-run around voting rights by forcing burdensome changes to election law and then failing to provide the required funding for proper implementation,” Sophia Lakin, an attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said.
“Missouri’s highly restrictive photo ID law was designed to make it harder for people to vote,” Denise Lieberman, co-director of Power and Democracy at the Advancement Project’s national office and coordinator of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, said in a statement. “It is a gimmick that, as we’ve seen in other states, inevitably leads to blocking people from the ballot, especially people of color, young voters, seniors, and people with disabilities. It is beyond unacceptable that the state of Missouri has launched a photo ID requirement while not even being prepared, trained, or properly funded for it.”
The case, Missouri NAACP v. Missouri, was filed in Cole County Circuit Court last week.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.