ST. LOUIS — A lawsuit alleging that Missouri’s new voter identification law was intended to make it harder for poor and minority residents to cast their ballots has been dismissed.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem on Tuesday threw out the suit filed in June by the ACLU and the Advancement Project on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a November 2016 ballot measure instituting voter ID. The law became effective June 1.
“The people of Missouri were right, and common sense prevailed,” Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said in a statement Wednesday. “We followed the law, we expanded ballot access and we didn’t disenfranchise voters.”
Denise Lieberman, St. Louis attorney for the Advancement Project, said opponents of the law remain concerned about it. “We’ll continue to look at all of our options in challenging it,” Lieberman said.
The suit alleged that Missouri failed to provide adequate funding for voter education, free voter IDs for those who need them, and training for poll workers.
Opponents claim voter ID laws, typically backed by Republicans, are really meant to dissuade poor people, people of color and others who tend to be Democrats from voting. The ACLU and the Advancement Project said Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are among states where implementation of voter ID laws led to confusion.
Ashcroft has said the law was necessary because voter fraud has “changed elections.” During a news conference last year in St. Louis he cited one case out of Kansas City in which voter ID would have made a difference, but said other instances of voter fraud likely go undetected.
Ashcroft has called the Missouri law a model for other states because it contains provisions that allow voting even without a photo ID.
A registered Missouri voter may show a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, non-driver’s license, passport, or military ID. Voters lacking any photo ID can show proof of identity such as a school or college ID, utility bill, bank statement or government document showing their name and address, and sign a statement.
For those without a photo ID or any documentation of identification, a provisional ballot can be cast. Then, if the signature matches the signature in the voter registry or if the voter returns later with proper photo ID, the vote will count.