A Cole County judge on Thursday struck down a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would have required voters to show photo identification at the polls. Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce ruled that the summary that would have appeared on the ballot was “insufficient and unfair” and pointed to two reasons for her ruling. First, the ballot summary includes the phrase “Voter Protection Act,” even though the phrase never actually appears in the constitutional amendment. Second, the summary stated that the amendment would allow the General Assembly to establish an early voting period, when in fact the amendment would “restrict the time period during which advance voting may occur,” Joyce said. “Because significant changes are required here and policy choices need to be made as to how to reallocate the words in a revised summary statement, the court chooses to vacate the summary statement and to provide the General Assembly an opportunity to revise it,” Joyce’s ruling said.
The ballot title approved by the legislature asks voters, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to adopt the Voter Protection Act and allow the General Assembly to provide by general law for advance voting prior to election day, voter photo identification requirements, and voter requirements based on whether one appears to vote in person or by absentee ballot?”
Tony Rothert, legal director of ACLU of Eastern Missouri, praised the ruling. “We did believe the summary statement as written was misleading to voters and are pleased the judge agreed,” said Rothert, whose organization was among those who filed the lawsuit challenging the ballot summary.