Elections 2020: Missourians Do Not Need A Photo ID To Vote, For Now | St. Louis Public Radio

Elections 2020: Missourians Do Not Need A Photo ID To Vote, For Now

Jan 23, 2020

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling gutted the state’s voter ID law approved by voters in 2016, but Republicans in the statehouse are looking to restore it. 

State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, has filed a measure that he hopes would withstand a court challenge. 

The original law approved by voters allowed three methods to cast a ballot. Voters could show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but were then required to sign an affidavit; or they could cast a provisional ballot. The provisional vote would count once they returned to show ID or election workers matched their signatures with a past vote.

But in a 5-2 ruling, the high court decided that the sworn statement portion of the law was “misleading” and “contradictory.” This cleared the path for Missourians who don’t have a photo ID to vote without signing the affidavit. 

Simmons’ proposal eliminates the portion where voters must sign a statement swearing who they claim to be. It only allows those with a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Those without a photo ID would cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if the signatures in their voter file matched. 

In light of recent changes, many Missourians are confused on what they need to vote. To answer questions, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft held a public Facebook Live stream on Thursday. The most common question was whether voters needed to bring a photo ID to the polls in November. As of now, the answer is no. 

“When you go to vote, we’d love to have you take your photo ID; if you don’t have that, you can use your secondary form of ID, and, of course, you can always fill out a provisional ballot,” Ashcroft said. 

According to the Secretary of State’s website, there are three options to cast a ballot

  • Provide a Missouri-issued driver's license or state ID, U.S. passport, or military ID.
  • Provide a secondary form of identification, such as a paycheck or bank statement.
  • If the voter has no form of identification but is a registered voter, they may cast a provisional ballot.

Ashcroft made it clear that he did not agree with the decision of the Supreme Court but said his office would abide by the law. 

“It’s troubling to me that the Missouri Supreme Court assigned the same judge that had ruled it unconstitutional 10 years before, before the people of the state had passed a constitutional amendment, to be the judge to make the decision this time,” he said. 

Sixty-three percent of Missouri voters approved the amendment to require a photo ID in 2016. 

Ashcroft also touched on election security. He said Missouri is taking active steps to ensure election authorities are prepared. In the Facebook Live stream, he said over 100 authorities voluntarily participated in a cybersecurity initiative led by his office to make sure voting equipment is up to date and secure. 

“When I cast my ballot on the elections we have in 2020, I’m not going to have any concerns that my ballot will not count or that it will be somehow mitigated by tampering,” he said. 

Ashcroft said there are 116 voting authorities in Missouri, but since the initiative was voluntary, he agreed to keep participation private. He said several authorities are going above and beyond state requirements in order to keep elections secure in 2020.

Follow Jaclyn on Twitter: @DriscollNPR 

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.