… Something else she never thought she’d be doing in 2016 was fighting to preserve the right to vote. Yet that’s exactly what she and dozens of other black activists have undertaken across the country, some for the second time in their lives, after a 2013 Supreme Court decision gutted a major provision of the Voting Rights Act. The elimination of that provision, which required nine states and many other localities with a history of racial discrimination to secure federal approval before changing election laws and procedures, sparked a series of measures across the country effectively restricting access to the polls with a disproportionate impact, once again, on black voters.
In Missouri, that resulted in renewed efforts to pass a voter ID law so restrictive that in 2006 the state’s supreme court found it violated the state constitution — which, unlike the U.S. Constitution, includes an affirmative right to vote. But instead of shelving the bill as unconstitutional, legislators moved to change the constitution itself, making Missouri the only state in the country that’s attempting to rewrite its supreme law in order to restrict access to the polls.
On November 8, Missourians will head to the polls to elect the president and a host of statewide officials in a deeply divided state. But this time, they will also be asked — in language that some have described as confusing — whether they want to amend their constitution to open the door to stricter voting laws. If passed, Amendment Six would give a second chance to HB 1631, which was vetoed earlier this summer by Gov. Jay Nixon after passing both state House and Senate. The proposed law aims to limit the forms of ID accepted at the polls to valid Missouri or federal IDs with photos and expiration dates — excluding currently accepted documents like college IDs, driver’s licenses from other states, expired IDs, voter registration cards, and utility bills. Voters without the required ID could sign a sworn statement affirming their identity and recognizing that such ID is “the law of the land” or they could cast a provisional ballot, not valid until they prove their identity.