Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed legislation [SB 3 text, PDF; materials] on Friday that would have required individuals to present government-issued photo ID cards [JURIST news archive] at the voting booth. Proponents of the legislation argued [St. Louis Times report] that it is necessary to protect against election fraud. The bill also contained an extension on early voting, long sought-after by Missouri Democrats [AP report]. In a letter [text, PDF] explaining his decision, Nixon stated:
Disenfranchising certain classes of persons is not acceptable. [SB 3] imposes unnecessary burdens on senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Placing a cloud of uncertainty over ballots cast by qualified voters is inconsistent with an individual's right to vote and have that vote counted.Lamenting the veto, State Senator Bill Stouffer, the bill's sponsor, stated [press release] that "[w]e have to have a picture ID to rent a movie or send something via UPS, but we don't need one to vote. With his veto today, it's a shame the governor doesn't understand the necessity of this bill to fight voter fraud." Detractors argue that it is unnecessary and the election fraud that the bill attempts to prevent has not been demonstrated to exist. Despite Nixon's veto, the photo ID requirement and extended early voting provisions are still being put before the voters on Missouri's 2012 ballot as constitutional amendments. The legislature can also override the veto by two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the legislature.
In 2006, the Supreme Court of Missouri [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a similar law [SB 1014, PDF], holding that requiring voters to present ID cards violates the equal protection and voting-rights clauses 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, 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.