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Voter photo ID lawsuit heard in Jefferson City

(via Flickr/ Daniel Morrison)

A lawsuit seeking to blocka proposed constitutional amendmentregarding voter identification in Missouri was heard today in Cole County.

The ballot measure was passed last year by the General Assembly and is scheduled to go before Missouri voters in November.  If approved, it would clear the way for lawmakers to pass enabling legislation to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.  Tony Rothert is an attorney with theACLU of Eastern Missouri.  He calls the ballot measure misleading.

“Most blatantly, the summary statement that appears on the ballot would ask voters, ‘shall we adopt the Voter Protection Act?’" Rothert said.  "There’s no such thing as the Voter Protection Act.”

Opponents of the ballot measure say it would disenfranchise those who would have difficulty obtaining a photo ID State Senator Bill Stouffer(R, Napton) sponsored the proposed amendment during the 2011 regular session.

“There’s no attempt to suppress voting," Stouffer said.  "We use photo ID as a level of identification for everything we do in life…you can’t rent a movie, you can’t pick up a hotel reservation, you can’t cash a check without a photo ID.”

Stouffer also dismissed plaintiffs’ claims that the phrase “Voter Protection Act” contained within the ballot measure was confusing – he says it’s just a title added on by House members and that he’s open to changing it.

A ruling by Cole County Judge Patricia Joyce is expected at a later date.  

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.