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No Photo ID Amendment on the November Ballot
The Legislature Failed to Rewrite Misleading Ballot Language, Effectively Killing the Amendment
Washington, DC – With the end of the legislative session, the Missouri legislature failed to replace the language of a ballot measure for this November that would amend the state constitution to allow legislation to require voters present a government-issued photo ID to vote, effectively killing the ballot initiative for this year. In March, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia S. Joyce ruled in a lawsuit brought by the Fair Elections Legal Network and other voting rights organizations, that the ballot language originally drafted by the legislature was misleading and invalidated the proposed ballot title.
The ballot measure in question, SJR2, was slated to be placed on the ballot for November 2012. It would have allowed the legislature to pass legislation requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID to vote. It was passed by the legislature in May 2011, in an attempt to circumvent the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling that a restrictive photo ID voting law was unconstitutional and could impact as many as 230,000 Missourians.
The proposed ballot title for the so-called “Voter Protection Act” was found by the court to be misleading in that it “fails in several respects to accurately inform citizens as to the subject matter on which they are asked to vote, and significant revisions would be required to correct the statement.”
“Thankfully, the court agreed that the language the legislature tried to put on the ballot was misleading. The legislature’s inability to rewrite the ballot language means Missourians will not face a deceptive amendment this year that would make voting more difficult for many Missourians,” said Ben Hovland, Senior Counsel of the Fair Elections Legal Network. “Instead of focusing on making voting more difficult, the legislature in future sessions should pass legislation that would make registration and voting more convenient, such as allowing online voter registration and early voting.”
This initiative is part of a recent trend of legislation introduced by conservative legislatures to restrict registration and voting. These laws will prevent millions of Americans – mostly seniors, minorities, working poor, people with disabilities, and students – from voting because they lack acceptable ID.