19 Jan MO Court Declares Section 115.427 (Voter ID) Unconstitutional
The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the decision of a lower court and declared the Missouri Voter ID law (Section 115.427) unconstitutional in the case Priorities USA, et al v. State of Missouri, et al.
The issue in this case was whether the Missouri Voter ID law, as proposed by the Missouri Secretary of State, restricted the right to vote in Missouri by imposing a burden on prospective voters.
Under the current law, individuals could comply with voter ID laws by doing one of the following:
- An individual can present acceptable forms of personal identification which contains a photograph of the individual;
- If an individual does not possess the types of identification which comply with section 1, the individual can vote by executing an affidavit and presenting a form of non-photo identification; or
- The individual can cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted if the voter returns to the polling place or the election authority and provides an approved form of photo identification.
Article VIII, section 2 of the Missouri Constitution establishes the qualifications necessary to vote in Missouri. Our courts have made clear that the right to vote is fundamental. Weinschenk v. State. The Court in Weinschenk emphasized that some individuals, due to personal circumstances, experience difficulties when attempting to obtain photo identification. If a statute severely burdens the right to vote, strict scrutiny applies, which means the law “will be upheld only if it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.” Peters v. Johns.
The Missouri Supreme Court in this case agreed with the lower court in determining the affidavit requirement (#2 above) of the sections 115.427(1) and 115.427.3 is misleading and contradictory. The Court reasoned although the State has an interest in combating voter fraud, the affidavit option is not a reasonable means to accomplish that goal. The statute clearly burdens the right to vote for certain individuals and does not bypass the strict scrutiny test because there is no compelling state interest in the matter. Moreover, the affidavit requirement is also a contradiction and a burden that will, in effect, deter voters.
This is a victory for those people that say the Missouri Secretary of State intentionally created a voter ID requirement to disenfranchise a certain segment of the population who tend to vote disproportionately against his party. For those in favor of that position, they cite the need to combat potential voter fraud.
Thank you for reading!
Tarun B. Rana, Esq.
Rana Law Group
655 Craig Road, Suite 252
St. Louis, MO 63141