SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Missouri’s voter photo ID law will go into effect August 28. Starting Sunday, voters will have to present a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s or non-driver’s license, a federal passport or a military ID to cast a ballot.
Two local advocacy groups are part of a lawsuit against the state alleging the law is unfair to several marginalized groups.
“In this new voter ID law, we’re going so far back to the 50s and the 60s, and we’re taking away the right to vote from the most vulnerable people,” said Dee Ogilvy, a representative with the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP.
“The photo ID portion of this bill disenfranchises many, many Missourians and denies them their right to vote,” said Ann Elwell with the Southwest Missouri League of Women Voters.
In the past, voters without those IDs could provide things such as utility bills or school IDs to vote. Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller said provisional ballots are given if someone doesn’t have a photo ID when voting.
“It’s similar to absentee voting, no different in terms of when we get that absentee ballot, we will check to make sure the name and address are accurate,” Schoeller said. “Then we will also check this signature to make sure it matches what we have on file.”
Advocates for the law say the new process will reduce voter fraud for the over 4 million registered voters in Missouri.
However, Schoeller said fraud isn’t a problem here.
“We did have a person who voted in the county and did a change of address within the city back in April of 2015, and so that’s the only known voter fraud that I’m aware of in terms of voter actually voting two ballots in the same day,” Schoeller said.
The NAACP and League of Women Voters say the law is a step backward.
“What are we afraid of, of having everybody vote in America?” said Ogilvy. “I mean, isn’t that the premise of our democracy?”
“Lawmakers should be encouraging Missourians to vote, encouraging them, making it at least somewhat easier to vote, rather than putting obstacles in their way,” Elwell said.
Both groups say unless the law can be blocked, the best thing to do is prepare a valid ID for the upcoming November elections.
According to the law, the state will cover the fees to obtain a non-driver’s license ID for voting purposes for those who can’t afford one. College students would have to either use a federal passport or obtain a Missouri-issued ID to vote while at college if they’re from outside the state.