FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information: Tony Rothert, ACLU of Eastern Missouri, 314-361-2111
Jefferson City, Missouri (July 17, 2006) -- Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri filed suit in Cole County Circuit Court challenging the new Voter Identification law. The law requires Missouri voters to present state-issued photo identification cards at the polls in order to be eligible to vote. Plaintiffs in the case include St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay; the City of St. Louis; St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley; Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields; and Jackson County.
?According to the ACLU, thousands of Missouri residents will be unable to secure the extensive documentation required to qualify for the newly required ID card and any associated fees will prohibit these same people from meeting the new requirement to vote.
“Our overall concern is that the new law is going to leave people out who want to vote, who deserve to vote and who are qualified to vote,” said Anthony E. Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. ?The lawsuit contends that the Voter Identification law violates the Hancock Amendment in the Missouri constitution, which prohibits the state from requiring local governments to provide new or additional services without the state agreeing to pay the costs. Before the new law was signed into effect by Governor Matt Blunt in June, there were a number of ways for registered voters to verify their identification, including a signature match, a voter registration card, a driver’s license or a utility bills.
“The state has burdened qualified citizens of our state with new hurdles to get over in order to exercise their right to vote,” said Brenda Jones, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. “In addition, the dictates of the law will drain general resources of local governments and cost tax payers money.” Estimates of what the new law will cost local officials in terms of hiring additional judges, production of additional provisional ballots and other associated expenses range from $16,000 in Laclede County to over $470,000 in Jackson County.
The suit was jointly filed by St. Louis attorney Burton Newman, a general counsel of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, and Kansas City attorney Richard Miller. In 2004 Newman and Miller successfully challenged the Missouri Conceal and Carry law in the Missouri Supreme Court which ruled that the law violated the Hancock Amendment. ?