Missouri high court rejects voter ID law

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Missouri [JURIST news archive] on Monday affirmed a trial court decision [JURIST report] striking down a state law [SB 1014 text, PDF; summary] requiring voters to show Missouri-issued photo identification at the polls [Missouri Dept. of Revenue backgrounder]. In a per curiam opinion [summary and text], a 6-1 majority held that requiring voters to present ID cards [JURIST news archive] violates the equal protection and voting-rights clauses [text] of the Missouri Constitution [text]. Applying strict scrutiny analysis, the court found that requiring Missourians to obtain IDs imposes more than a minimal burden on their voting rights [JURIST news archive], noting that it requires "time, funds and advance planning." The court also held that the provision was not narrowly tailored to the compelling state interest of preventing voter fraud, noting that

[i]n fact, the only specific instance of possible fraud that has occurred since 2002 of which the witnesses were aware involved an attempt (whether intentional or accidental is not clear) by a person who had voted absentee to then vote in person. This conduct would not be affected by SB 1014 and was discovered and prevented prior to the implementation of the Photo-ID Requirement.
In dissent, Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. [official profile] wrote that the case was not ripe for consideration because the law provides for a two-year transitional period and that the law addressed evidence of voter fraud during the 2000 election.

The Missouri court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on the combined appeals earlier this month. Similar voter ID laws have been upheld in Indiana and blocked in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports]. The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would require voter ID cards for federal elections [JURIST report] starting in 2008. AP has more.


 

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