Judge tosses part of Missouri voter ID law, chides state over advertising information

Update: Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office plans to appeal a court ruling that struck down part of Missouri’s voter ID law, his office announced Wednesday.

A Cole County judge on Tuesday upheld most of a Missouri law requiring that voters present an ID at the polls but barred the state from requiring voters without a photo ID to sign a statement the court deemed “misleading.”

Priorities USA, a national progressive organization, challenged Missouri’s voter ID law in a lawsuit filed in June.

Missouri voters in 2016 gave the state authority by a constitutional amendment to impose a voter ID requirement. Under the state’s requirement, voters are to present a government-issued photo ID prior to voting if they have one. Voters who don’t have a photo ID but had another form of ID without a photo were supposed to sign a statement confirming their identity under penalty of perjury.

Senior Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled Tuesday that the state could not require “voters otherwise qualified to cast a regular ballot” to sign the sworn statement the way it’s currently written if they didn’t have a photo ID. He said it “impermissibly infringes on a citizen’s right to vote as guaranteed under the Missouri Constitution.”

In his ruling, Callahan called the statement’s language “contradictory and misleading.”

“The affidavit plainly requires the voter to swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved,” the ruling says.

Callahan went on to say the statement represents an “outright misstatement of law” by requiring voters to acknowledge a photo ID is required to vote.

The ruling upheld the portion of the law that allows voters without any form of ID to cast a provisional ballot that would only be counted if they returned before the polls close and presented a proper ID or if election officials could determine the voter’s signature on the ballot matched the signature on file with their registration.

Callahan also scolded the state for circulating advertising material saying voters are required to present a photo ID.

Priorities USA chairman Guy Cecil celebrated the ruling in a statement.

“Today’s ruling, preventing the state of Missouri from imposing additional burdens on voters who lack photo ID, is an important victory for voting rights that will ensure that future elections in the state are open and accessible to every eligible voter,” Cecil said.

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