St. Louis Public Radio News
Fri September 15, 2006
Judge throws out Missouri's new voter ID law
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – A judge says Missouri's new voter ID law is unconstitutional. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled Thursday that the law is an infringement on the right to vote and is a special burden on women and the poor.
Spence Jackson, a spokesman for Governor Matt Blunt who signed the measure into law in June, says the administration is disappointed by the ruling and disagrees with the judge's decision.
"The state covers the cost of elections so these aren't costs that are going to be borne by counties and we believe it's a very constitutionally sound law," Jackson said Thursday. "It's one that we need in our state. It's a good continuation of the improvements that we made while Governor Blunt was secretary of state."
The state Democratic Party had challenged the law, along with the ACLU; the groups contended the law will disenfranchise poor and elderly voters who don't have photo IDs.
Judge Callahan said the requirement is a particular burden to women and the poor. That's because another law requires people getting a driver's license to show they are in the country legally, generally with a birth certificate or passport.
The ID to vote is free, but the judge said the underlying paperwork has a cost.
"What he recognized was the burdens that are placed on certain individuals by reason of this particular legislation and that's what he found offensive and unconstitutional," said Burt Newman, an attorney for the ACLU.
A spokesman for Republican Governor Matt Blunt says he hopes the state will appeal. Republicans say the law is necessary to combat fraud at the polls.
A federal judge recently upheld similar measure in Indiana. And Democrats in Georgia are challenging a voter ID law in that state.