With only a few weeks left before the Nov. 8 general election, opponents to a voter ID amendment are ramping up appeals to voters they hope will reject the proposal. Some advocacy organizations have formed a coalition for broader outreach. They include Progress Missouri, the NAACP, AFL-CIO, AARP, Missouri Faith Voices, Metropolitan Congregations United and Communities Creating Opportunity. At issue is an amendment that will allow Missourians to decide if the state constitution should be changed to require voters present photo identification before voting. If voters approve it, a bill passed by the legislature will also take effect, which lays out which IDs qualify and requires the state to pay for individuals to obtain an ID or documents necessary to get an ID.
Republicans – who have supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature – say the measures will prevent voter fraud. Democrats, including Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, contend voter fraud isn’t an issue and that the proposals would instead disenfranchise thousands of voters.
Laura Swinford, executive director of Progress Missouri, argues an outreach campaign is especially important because many voters mistakenly assume they’re voting for the law passed by the legislature during the veto session.
For the moment, they are, as that bill will take effect. But all the amendment itself does is lay out a general identification requirement. What forms of ID can be used and what exceptions can be made are left up to lawmakers. Calling it a “Pandora’s box,” Swinford said that could give legislators free reign to pass further restrictions down the line.