Missouri is heading toward a slow-motion pile-up in about six weeks, when the state’s new voter ID law kicks in. State officials, including Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, must speed up efforts to educate Missourians about coming changes to their fundamental right to vote. After June 1, barring legal intervention, Missouri law will require voters to present an acceptable form of photographic identification to cast a ballot. Alternatively, those without a photo ID will be required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their name and address. Election authorities will be allowed to take a picture of the voter. Those provisions are onerous enough in a state where turnout is typically, and depressingly, low. But it will scare some voters, particularly the poor and elderly, who may be reluctant to sign a legal document they don’t fully understand in order to cast a ballot.
That means more than 200,000 Missourians may soon seek non-driver’s license identification cards in order to vote. By law, the state must provide that ID at no cost to the voter.
Voters will need personal documents before getting the photo ID. That means finding a birth certificate, for example, or a divorce decree. By law, the secretary of state’s office must help voters find those documents, again at no cost to the voter.
You can see the problem. Obtaining a photo ID will be confusing and time-consuming for citizens and expensive for taxpayers.