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Suit challenges Mo. voter photo ID

An interior view of the dome of the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo.
(via Flickr/jimbowen0306)
An interior view of the dome of the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo.

A lawsuit is seeking to strike down a proposed constitutional amendment allowing a photo identification mandate for Missouri voters.

The measure passed the Missouri General Assembly this session and is scheduled to go before voters in November 2012.

It would ask voters to amend the state Constitution and allow lawmakers to enact early voting laws and photo ID requirements.

Denise Lieberman with the Advancement Project, one of the groups bringing the suit, says the summary language does not make that clear.

“While the legislature claims that this measure stands to protect voters, it does just the opposite, it in fact weakens the constitutional protection that’s afforded to the right to vote that’s in our constitution and never advises the voter of that,” Lieberman said.

The senate sponsor of the measure, Republican Bill Stouffer, says the measure is clear.

“It allows voters to decide whether the Missouri legislature can set the guidelines for early voting and photo ID in order to vote,” Stouffer said. “It’s simple and straightforward in my mind.”

In 2006 the Missouri Supreme Court ruled requiring voters to show photo IDs violated the state constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana photo ID law in 2008.

The ACLU chapters of Eastern Missouri, Western Missouri, and Kansas, as well as the Fair Elections Legal Network also are taking part in the suit.

Online court records (number 11AC-CC00439) show the lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Cole County Circuit Court.

If voters adopt the amendment, a separate law still would be needed to implement the provisions - and a recent veto from Mo. Gov. Jay Nixonwould also hinder the law's progress.

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