Judge clarifies decision on voting requirements, says no sworn statements required

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Aiming to lessen the confusion regarding the requirements to vote in Missouri’s general election, a judge has said that those with an alternative form of identification will not be required to sign a sworn statement when casting a ballot.

Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan issued a revised order Tuesday morning clarifying an earlier decision that, according to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, “injected mass confusion into the voting process.”

“The Defendants and all other persons acting in concert with Defendants in administering and certifying elections within the State of Missouri, including local election authorities, are permanently enjoined from requiring voters otherwise qualified to cast a regular ballot under section 115.427.2 to execute the sworn statement set out in section 115.427.2(1) and 115.427.3 in order to cast a ballot,” Callahan states in the decision.

He called the sworn statement that voters with an alternative form of accepted ID are asked to sign “contradictory and misleading.”

“Today, a mere two weeks from the November 2018 mid-term election, Senior Judge Richard Callahan has eviscerated Missouri’s photo ID law as crafted by the state legislature. Somehow, while holding the law constitutional, Judge Callahan has prohibited the enforcement of the law for the upcoming election,” Ashcroft said in a statement following the revised order.

“I will continue to work with the Missouri legislature and the people of the state to implement their will and uphold my duty to hold fair and secure elections. As always, despite what you’ve been told, if you are registered to vote, you can vote.”

The state had asked for an emergency stay on the ruling noting that Callahan’s original decision directs the state not to use the statement but was not clear if local election authorities — those who enforce the statement requirement — were bound by the decision.

State seeks emergency stay on voter ID law ruling

The Missouri Supreme Court denied the request to put a stay on Callahan’s order on Friday. Callahan clarified his order on Tuesday addressing the concerns at hand heading into the November election.

“I am deeply concerned that Judge Callahan, who previously struck Missouri’s photo ID law in 2006, has once again thwarted the clear desire of Missourians to secure their elections. I am further disappointed that the Missouri Supreme Court has denied my request for an emergency stay of Judge Callahan’s ruling,” Aschroft said.

Others applauded the county courts decision.

“Today’s court decision provided needed clarity to local election officials,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri. “The Missouri Secretary of State and others sowed confusion for voters this year. We know the real threat to democracy is that not all eligible voters vote. The people should question when the government makes it harder for citizens to exercise this basic right.”

Under the law that went into effect mid-2017, Missourians have three options for in-person voting:

  • Option One requires the presentment of a current Missouri driver or nondriver license, current passport, or a military or veterans identification card;
  • Option Two requires the presentment of any one of a number of prescribed non- photo forms of identification that were permissible under the previous law, such as a bank statement or a utility bill; and
  • Option Three allows a registered voter with no form of identification to cast a provisional ballot. The vote will only be counted should the individual return with an Option One photo identification, or if the election authority determines that the voter’s signature on the provisional ballot matches the voter’s signature on file.

Read the revised order online.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.