Updated at 12:40 p.m. with comment from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft — Civil rights groups sued the state of Missouri on Thursday over the funding for its voter ID law, which went into effect June 1.
The lawsuit filed in Cole County Circuit Court argues that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office is not providing “mandated funding for voter education, free voter IDs and birth certificates and training of poll workers.” The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, the national ACLU and civil rights group Advancement Project on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
The groups are asking for a judge to temporarily block the law ahead of St. Louis’ July 11 special election for the 28th Ward aldermanic seat, which was vacated when Lyda Krewson became mayor. The news release announcing the lawsuit said voting in that election begins Monday.
“It is beyond unacceptable that the state of Missouri has launched a photo ID requirement while not even being prepared, trained, or properly funded for it,” said Denise Lieberman the senior attorney for the Advancement Project’s voter protection program.
Ashcroft said after a voter-education event in Wright City on Friday morning: "We haven't been served with any sort of lawsuit, so they may have filed something, but they haven't given it to us, so I really can't comment on it until they give it to us."
He told St. Louis Public Radio on May 31 that his office has held several meetings with election authorities throughout the state to train them on the law. This week, Ashcroft is going around the state doing voter education town halls; he held a few Thursday in the St. Louis area.
Ashcroft also has said that there is $1.6 million in the budget that starts July 1 to spend on publicizing the law, helping people obtain in-state and out-of-state vital records so they can get a free ID, as well as to pay for the free IDs. In the current fiscal year, the state has spent a little more than $7,600 in federal money on implementing the law, mostly for voter-education fliers, according to Maura Browning, communications director for the Secretary of State’s office.
Missouri is one of 33 states, many with Republican legislatures and governors, to have some sort of voter ID law, which have been touted as an effort to prevent voter fraud.
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