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NAACP, others voice concerns on photo voter ID

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Members from the Missouri NAACP, Empower Missouri, Missouri Faith Voices and other groups spoke at the Capitol Thursday to denounce the measure in the Missouri Senate that would make photo voter ID legal.

NAACP Missouri President Rod Chapel and his organization have been among the most vocal opposition to photo voter ID, which Chapel says is an attempt to disenfranchise certain voters

“Our opposition to HB 1631… is about fundamental rights,” he said. “It’s about being an American, it’s about being a Missourian.”

Chapel also said the recent 8-0 Supreme Court decision in Evenwel v. Abbott should play a larger role in the legislature’s considerations. Evenwel v. Abbott held that voting district populations should not take into account only the number of registered or eligible voters residing within those districts, but rather the entire population of the district. Chapel said photo voter ID set a dangerous precedent.

“It’s interesting that at a time when the United States Supreme Court in Evenwel v. Abbott is saying that one person, one vote is still the law of the land, we have the Missouri legislature that intends to do the exact thing that Texas has done – pass a photo ID bill and then say that those who are not entitled to vote literally do not count.

Chapel was joined by Cassandra Gould of Missouri Faith Voices, NAACP executive board member Jane Deuker, Rachel Greathouse of Empower Missouri, and Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis. All of them cited a figure from Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office that estimates more than 250,000 people could lose the ability to vote should the law go into effect.

“We are here standing with the NAACP just to say that we believe that any attempt at restricting voter access is absolutely wrong,” Gould said. “It’s immoral.”

The group also mentioned Wisconsin’s election problems from Tuesday night, which included long lines for students and longtime registered voters being turned away, as an example of what would happen should the new come into effect. Dueker also believes the effort for photo voter ID has a lot in common with SJR 39, the controversial “religious liberties” bill that many on the left characterize as an act of discrimination against the LGBT community.

“This pattern of discrimination and enshrining that in our state Constitution… people are starting to realize that is not something that either citizens, the business community, people from all walks of life are going to put up with,” Dueker said. “I think we’re starting to see the backlash.”

“There’s going to be a line in history and you’re either on the right side of the line, or the wrong side of the line,” Chapel said. “You’re either going to be for giving people the right to vote or against it.”