Judge dismisses first of two lawsuits challenging new Missouri voter ID law

(The Center Square) – A circuit court judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s new photo identification requirement for voting.

House Bill 1878, a 58-page omnibus election bill passed by the Missouri Legislature in May and signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in June, requires a registered voter to show photo identification to cast a ballot. If they don’t have the proper photo identification, they can cast a provisional ballot and return before the polls close with photo identification. Or, the ballot will be counted if the person’s signature matches the signature on file with the election authority.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Missouri and the Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed the lawsuit against the state and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. The Campaign Legal Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition represented the plaintiffs.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon E. Beetem granted the state’s motion to dismiss because the lawsuit lacked any “specific factual allegation about any specific human being … who will be harmed by the photo ID requirement.”

second voter photo identification lawsuit is pending and includes two voters affected by the law. It was filed by the ACLU and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition on behalf of the NAACP, League of Women Voters and voters D. Rene Powell and Kimberly Morgan.

With the November election weeks away, Ashcroft was pleased with the verdict.

“I applaud and agree with the court’s decision to dismiss this lawsuit since not even the plaintiffs could find a single individual who would be prevented from voting,” Ashcroft said in a statement. “Missouri elections will continue to be safe, secure, and accurate as we prepare for November.”

The plaintiffs described Beetem’s ruling as a “pit stop” on the way to filing an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court.

“Today’s ruling was only on procedural matters and not the legal issue,” the Missouri ACLU and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition said in a statement. “While the decision from the Cole County Circuit Court is wrong … we all recognize that this is a procedural pit stop on the way to having the Missouri Supreme Court decide the issue as they have twice before striking down less restrictive requirements.”

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