Judge Tosses Lawsuit Challenging Missouri Photo ID Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Oct. 12, a Missouri judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters of Missouri, the Missouri NAACP and two voters challenging a photo ID provision prescribed by Missouri’s omnibus voter suppression law, House Bill 1878. The lawsuit alleged that H.B. 1878’s imposition of a photo ID requirement for all in-person voting — which repeals previously accepted ID options such as voter registration cards, student IDs or copies of a utility bill or bank statement — violates the Missouri Constitution. Under the new requirement, if voters lack a proper ID (a Missouri or federal photo ID), they can cast a provisional ballot that will only be counted if they return within the same day with a valid ID or if an election official conducts a signature-matching process to compare the voter’s signature on their ballot with the one in their voter registration file. In their complaint, the plaintiffs argued that this requirement disproportionately harms voters from populations who face “significant barriers” to acquiring a photo ID, including “racial minorities, people living in poverty, rural Missourians, students, senior citizens, Missourians with disabilities, Missourians returning from incarceration, [and] unhoused Missourians.” Notably, in 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a similar photo ID requirement, which required voters to present a government-issued photo ID or otherwise complete a misleading and inaccurate affidavit in order to vote, for violating the Missouri Constitution. 

In yesterday’s decision, the judge granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that one set of plaintiffs behind the lawsuit — two Missouri voters — lack standing (meaning capacity to bring a lawsuit in court) and do not allege “a specific, concrete, non-speculative injury or legally protectable interest in challenging the photo ID requirement.” In regards to the plaintiffs’ assertion that obtaining a new photo ID ahead of the November election could be particularly challenging for certain voters, the judge noted that “Missouri voters do not have a legally protectable interest in avoiding the everyday burdens of getting an expired license renewed.” In addition, the judge held that the other set of plaintiffs — the League of Women Voters of Missouri and Missouri NAACP — similarly “lack standing” or a “legally protectable interest in the case” because these organizations fail to bring any “factual allegation about any specific human being who is a member of NAACP or LWV and who will be harmed by the photo ID requirement.” Ultimately, this means the state’s new photo ID requirement — under which Missouri voters must have a non-expired, acceptable Missouri or federal photo ID — will remain in place for the upcoming November election. Find a complete list of the acceptable forms of photo ID here

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.