June 8, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project sued Missouri today over its new voter ID law, charging the state failed to provide mandated funding for voter education, free voter IDs and birth certificates, and training of poll workers.

The case was filed on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Missouri. The groups are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the law from remaining in effect during a local special election on July 11. In-person absentee voting for this election begins Monday, June 12. An additional 52 Missouri counties go to the polls on August 8.

“Voters were promised that this law was not about disenfranchising the most vulnerable in our state,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The state’s lack of funding and implementation of this law tells another story.”

The measure, which took effect June 1, mandates that the state fully fund all costs associated with implementing the law, including costs for related public education, free voter IDs and birth certificates, and training of poll workers. To date, the state has appropriated just a fraction of the amount necessary to cover these costs, even as local and state elections loom.

“States are not allowed to make an end run around voting rights by forcing burdensome changes to election law and then failing to provide the required funding for proper implementation,” said Sophia Lakin, an attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are among the states that have been reprimanded by the courts for disastrous implementation of their voter ID laws and inadequate, confusing voter education.

“Missouri’s highly restrictive photo ID law was designed to make it harder for people to vote,” said Denise Lieberman, co-director of Power and Democracy at the Advancement Project’s national office, and coordinator of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “It is a gimmick that — as we’ve seen in other states — inevitably leads to blocking people from the ballot, especially people of color, young voters, seniors, and people with disabilities. This suppressive effect is magnified once the state does not even hold its end of the bargain. It is beyond unacceptable that the state of Missouri has launched a photo ID requirement while not even being prepared, trained, or properly funded for it.”

The case, Missouri NAACP v. Missouri, was filed in Cole County Circuit Court.

The complaint is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/missouri-naacp-v-missouri-complaint

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/missouri-naacp-v-missouri

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