WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Missouri NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Missouri and individual voters filed a lawsuit against the voter identification requirements of Missouri’s newly enacted omnibus voter suppression law, House Bill 1878, for violating the Missouri Constitution. The voter ID provision in H.B. 1878 imposes a photo ID requirement for all in-person voting and repeals previously accepted ID options such as voter registration cards, student IDs or copies of a utility bill or bank statement. Now, if a voter lacks proper 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 matches the ballot signature with a signature on file. The plaintiffs behind today’s lawsuit argue that the new law’s restrictions violate several provisions of the Missouri Constitution including the guarantee of free and open elections, right to vote and equal protection.
In their complaint against the state of Missouri and Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R), the plaintiffs allege that there is no compelling state interest for these restrictions and since they “impose a severe, substantial, and heavy burden on fundamental right to vote,” they are subject to strict scrutiny (the highest standard of judicial review). Additionally, the complaint points to two previous cases where Missouri courts rejected strict voter ID laws. Most recently, in 2020, Missouri courts struck down a voter ID law that required voters to present a government-issued photo ID or otherwise complete a misleading and inaccurate affidavit in order to vote. The plaintiffs note that the court in the 2020 lawsuit identified “substantial evidence that the inadequacy of signature matching necessary to count a provisional ballot cast by a voter without a photo ID—lack of training or uniform standards, age, and illness—‘could result in an over-rejection of legitimate signatures.’”
This lawsuit comes on the heels of a previous lawsuit against several provisions of H.B. 1878 that govern voter registration activities.