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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Missouri judge rules voter ID law unconstitutional
Natalie Hrubos at 8:56 PM ET

[JURIST] A Missouri judge ruled Thursday that a state law [SB 1014 text, PDF; summary] requiring voters to show a Missouri-issued photo identification at the polls [Missouri Dept. of Revenue backgrounder] violates the state constitution [text] because it is "an impermissible additional qualification to vote." Those who support the law say it would prevent voter fraud; opponents [JURIST report] say it would place an unnecessary burden on voters, effectively keeping them from the polls [JURIST report] by requiring them to prove they are in the country legally by showing a birth certificate or a passport. Although the ID cards [JURIST news archive] themselves are free, voters would have to pay for the documents required to obtain the cards.

Ruling on two consolidated challenges to the legislation, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan wrote that the law would impose a great and perhaps even insurmountable burden on the elderly, the poor, the under-educated, or the otherwise disadvantaged who were least able to bear the costs and the bureaucratic burden of obtaining the IDs. Callahan also indicated that the law could present a special obstacle for married women who have changed their last names, as well as for Missouri residents born in other states. Similar voter ID bills have recently been blocked in Georgia and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports], while a state court in June upheld Arizona's voter ID requirement [JURIST report]. AP has more. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has local coverage.






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