Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2012)

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The Missouri Voter ID Amendment did not make the November 2012 ballot in the state of Missouri as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would require voters to show photo identification prior to casting a ballot.[1]

A 2006 state law previously required that voters show a government-issued photo ID. That law was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court. According to the ruling, the law was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote. According to reports, lawmakers in support of the 2012 amendment hope that the proposed amendment would supersede the supreme court decisions.[2]

Background

Governor veto

On June 17, 2011 Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation - SB 3 - that proposed requiring voters to show photo identification in order to cast ballots. Additionally, the proposed bill would have allowed a no-excuse-needed period for Missouri voters to vote prior to Election day. The bill was passed by the Senate with a 25-9 vote. The House voted 99-52. However, the legislative votes are insufficient to override the veto.[3]

Although the 2012 certified measure is similar in topic, the measure will appear on the 2012 ballot. In contrast, the measure simply authorizes the enactment of such state laws but does not require that they be enacted.

Nixon argued that proposed legislative bill would have made it harder for seniors and the disabled to vote because they were less likely to have a driver's license or government-issued photo ID. Despite the veto, if voters approve the proposed measure, legislators could pass yet another bill.[3]

The vetoed legislation can be read here - SB 3.

Support

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer. According to Stouffer, the bill takes precautions to avoid disenfranchising voters. Specifically, the bill includes a mandate that requires that state cover the cost of obtaining a photo ID for those unable to attain one. "This is not about putting up barriers for people who want to vote. We're just trying to make sure our elections are secure and fair. Missouri always has very narrowly decided elections, where one vote can change the outcome," said Stouffer.[4]

Opposition

Opponents of the proposed measure argue that it would hinder voters who are poor, elderly or disabled from voting. Denise Lieberman said Missourians for Fair Elections plans to launch an education campaign to persuade voters to reject the amendment. The organization includes AARP, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.[4]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Missouri ballot measures, 2012

Opposition

  • The News Tribune said, "It’s a bad idea. And it’s unconstitutional — even if voters next year approve the companion Constitutional Amendment that the now-vetoed law would have been based on...Missouri’s Constitution now guarantees a right to vote that neither the now-vetoed law nor the proposed amendment change...That means that any proposal to limit the ability to vote once you’re registered violates the Missouri Constitution...voters should reject the amendment when it’s on the ballot next year."[5]

Lawsuit

See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012
2012 measure lawsuits
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By state
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Initiative process

Emmanuell Aziz et al v. Robert N. Mayer et al.

On July 6, 2011 opponents filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court arguing that the wording of the ballot summary may be misleading. According to reports, eight plaintiffs are listed on the lawsuit which include elderly, disabled, immigrant and student voters. Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney for the Advancement Project voting rights group is also involved in the suit, along with attorneys from American Civil Liberties Union chapters in St. Louis and Kansas City and the Washington-based Fair Elections Legal Network.[6]

Specifically, the lawsuit argues that summary is misleading because lawmakers already have the authority to enact voting laws. The lawsuit states that the measure instead places "strict limits on any advance voting" and allows lawmakers "to strictly limit the types of photo identification."[6]

Liberman said, "There's nothing that alerts voters to the fact that they are voting to curtail one of the core fundamental rights of their constitution."[6]

The case is expected to be heard by Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. Defendants include Republican leaders of the House and the Senate, measure sponsor Sen. Bill Stouffer and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.[6]

On March 27, 2012, Judge Joyce ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck the current summary from the ballot, finding the statement to be unfair and insufficient. Judge Joyce was, reportedly, especially troubled by the phrase "Voter Protection Act" in the summary, though it never actually appears in the amendment itself. The measure was sent back to the Legislature with Judge Joyce saying, "Because significant changes are required here and policy choices may need to be made as to how to reallocate the words in a revised summary statement, the court chooses to vacate the summary statement and to provide the General Assembly an opportunity to revise it."[7]

The complete ruling can be found here.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan responded to the ruling saying, "The court decision finding that legislators wrote insufficient and unfair ballot language is a victory for voters’ rights. I am pleased the judge saw through this deceptive attempt to trick Missourians into thinking this proposal is about passing a Voter Protection Act."[8]

Case can be read here.

Path to the ballot

See also: Missouri legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

In order to qualify for the ballot, the measure required approval by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly.

  • On February 24, 2011 the Missouri State Senate approved the proposed measure following a 26-7 vote. The measure now remains pending in the House.[1]
  • On May 2, 2011 the House voted 102-55 on the proposed measure following a few amendments to the proposal. Prior to being referred to the ballot however, the amended measure must return to the Senate for final approval of the changes.[9][10]
  • On May 9 the State Senate gave final approval to refer the measure to ballot. The Senate voted 25-9.[11]

Timeline

Calendar.png

The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
Approval Feb. 24, 2011 Missouri State Senate approved the proposed measure following a 26-7 vote.
Approval May 2, 2011 House voted 102-55 on the proposed measure following a few amendments to the proposal.
Certification May 9, 2011 State Senate gave final approval to refer the measure to ballot, 25-9.

See also

By Bailey Ludlam
Ballot measure writer

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