ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two civil rights organizations are suing to stop Missouri's new voter ID law, with their attorneys calling it a gimmick designed to block people from voting.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Jefferson City by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Missouri.
Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a November ballot measure instituting voter ID. The law became effective June 1. Its first use will be in a special election July 11 for a St. Louis aldermanic seat left vacant when Democrat Lyda Krewson was elected mayor in April. In-person absentee voting in that race begins Monday.
The suit alleges that Missouri has failed to provide funding for voter education, free voter IDs for those who need them, and training for poll workers.
Opponents claim voter ID laws, typically backed by Republicans, are really meant to dissuade poor and minority residents, who tend to be Democrats, from voting. Denise Lieberman, an attorney with the Advancement Project, said the Missouri law especially impacts "people of color, young voters, seniors, women, and people with disabilities."
A spokeswoman for Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, reached Friday, declined comment. But during an appearance in St. Louis in March, Ashcroft defended the law, saying voter fraud has "changed elections." He cited just one case out of Kansas City in which voter ID would have made a difference, but said he many other instances of voter fraud likely go undetected.
Ashcroft has crossed the state in recent months, educating voters about the law. He has called it a model for other states because it contains provisions that allow voting even without a photo ID.
Under the new law, a registered voter may show a government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license, non-driver's license, passport, or military ID. Voters lacking any photo ID can show proof of identity such as a school or college ID, utility bill, bank statement or government document showing their name and address, and sign a statement.
For those without a photo ID or any documentation of identification, a provisional ballot can be cast. Then, if the signature matches the signature in the voter registry or if the voter returns later with proper photo ID, the vote will count.