Voter advocates across the state and nation cheered today’s announcement by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon that he would veto a repressive voter identification bill passed last month by the Missouri legislature.
“Gov. Nixon’s veto of SB 3 protects the rights of all Missouri voters and goes a long way to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot,” said Denise Lieberman, senior attorney and Missouri Voter Protection Advocate for Advancement Project, a voter protection group among the dozens of groups who joined to oppose the measure. “The governor’s action today sends the message that no Missouri voter should be relegated to second class citizenship solely because they do not have or cannot get a state ID.”
Voter advocates have been lobbying the Governor to veto the repressive voter identification bill since the legislature passed it during the final week of the legislative session in May. A coalition of 45 organizations representing diverse constituencies sent a letter to the governor urging him to stand up for Missouri voters, and nearly 2,000 voters from across the state signed a petition urging the Governor to veto the legislation.
The bill would have made Missouri’s voter identification requirements among the strictest in the nation, and would no longer have allowed voters to present a range of identification at the polls. Instead it would have required voters to present only a non-expired photo ID issued by the state of Missouri or federal government.
A study by the Missouri Secretary of State estimates that over 230,000 eligible, registered voters in Missouri lack or can’t get the strict form of ID required by the proposals, especially African Americans, young voters, senior citizens and the working poor, who are up to twice as likely to lack a current state ID.
“Consider victims of the recent tornados in Joplin who have lost their records,” and won’t be able to produce the underlying documents necessary to get an ID, advocates wrote in a letter to the to the Governor.
Gov. Nixon joins with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton who also vetoed photo ID bills passed earlier this year in those states. According to a recent report by Advancement Project, photo ID bills were introduced in 32 states this year as part of a coordinated effort to make it more difficult to vote.
“We applaud Gov. Nixon for taking a strong stand to protect Missouri voters,” said State Representative Stacey Newman, who lead the fight in the legislature to oppose the photo ID bill. “The only thing this bill did was ensure that registered voters wouldn’t be allowed to vote. That isn’t democracy. That is voter suppression.”