As a result of a law that was signed by Gov. Mike Parson, Missouri voters will be asked to present their photo IDs if they were to cast a regular ballot in the upcoming November elections. This caps a push that was two decades long by the Republicans demanding stricter requirements for voting.
The latest Missouri election law will also allow people to cast absentee ballots in person without citing an explanation why they won’t be able to vote on Election Day, a provision driven by Democrats as a compromise for not attempting to overturn the photo ID requirement.
This law takes effect on the August 28th, a few weeks after the state’s August 2 primaries.
It comes at a time when there is a renewed national focus on election laws. Following widespread mail-in voting during the pandemic-affected 2020 elections, Democrats in many states have tried to expand voter access, while many Republicans have sought new voting restrictions that they claim will reduce risks for fraud.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft backed Missouri’s measure and deemed it “one of the strongest election laws in the country.”
Ashcroft said, “It makes sure that it’s easy to vote, it’s harder to cheat and the people can have trust in the results.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of spring, there have been 17 states excluding Missouri where photo identification laws were in effect. Nineteen of them had identification laws where people could submit ID proof besides a photograph.
The use of drop boxes is prohibited by Missouri’s new law to gather absentee ballots, requires cybersecurity audits, and outlaws’ private election donations, with exclusions for protective gear, water, or meals for election workers. It repeals Missouri’s presidential primary, instead allowing sides to hold caucuses or conventions, and it makes it possible for voters to register by party beginning in 2023.
Back in 2006 was the first time when the state required a photo ID but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
For years Missouri Republicans have been looking to impose photo ID demands just to be met with denials by the courts.
Republican lawmakers put a constitutional amendment approving picture ID on the ballot, which 63% of voters accepted back in 2016. However, the accompanying law enacting the actual photo ID requirement was placed on hold by the lower courts. A “misleading” and “contradictory” provision requiring a sworn statement for voters without a photo ID to cast a regular ballot in January 2020 was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Voters who do not have a government-issued photo ID can cast provisional ballots, which will be taken into account if they come back in a day with a photo ID or if election officials authenticate their signatures, according to Missouri’s most recent law. It is required from the state to provide free photo identification cards to those who do not have one inorder for them to vote, like the previous law stated.
Democratic Rep. LaKeySha Bosley mentioned last month during the debate, “What you’re trying to do is take us back to Jim Crow.”
Ashcroft dismissed claims that the photo ID requirement discriminates against minority voters. “It seems pretty racist to me to say that the color of skin determines whether or not someone knows how to get an ID,” Ashcroft claimed.