Procedures at Missouri polling places are in question for next month’s election after a judge struck down key elements of the state’s popular voter ID law Tuesday.
The lawsuit challenging the voter ID law was filed by a group led by the left-leaning voting right organization Priorities USA which is funded in part by liberal billionaire George Soros. Soros has dropped million dollars into several ballot measures and the campaign of Senator Claire McCaskill as she struggles to hold on to her seat.
The race between Missouri’s McCaskill and popular Republican challenger Josh Hawley, could play a pivotal role in determining which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.
The last minute intrusion of the court into the voter ID requirement could help McCaskill in traditional Democrat strongholds that have historically been accused of bussing in voters while holding polling stations open in areas where the democrat lacks the votes needed to win on election day.
Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan overturned the simple requirement for voters who don’t present a photo ID to sign an affidavit.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said the timing of the ruling is “unduly creating mass confusion.” He noted Callahan’s decision directs the state to stop using the affidavit while local election authorities enforce its requirement.
Ashcroft said it’s not clear if local poll workers are bound by the judge’s decision. He added that many local election authorities have already trained poll workers to require voters to sign the statement.
The document says the voter acknowledges that he or she doesn’t possess a photo ID and specifies that the person signing the document does so under penalty of perjury.
Callahan called the affidavit an “outright misstatement of law” and ruled that the requirement for a voter to sign it is a violation of a citizen’s right to vote. Callahan’s ruling, however, goes against long-standing requirements that potential voters must sign their name when they initially register to vote. Some are asking why Callahan thinks this seems so burdensome to voters.
Ashcroft, a Republican who campaigned for office on the photo voter ID law, said he’s working with the Attorney General’s office to seek a stay and appeal of Judge Callahan’s decision. He said the judge’s decision creates confusion for voters as well as local election authorities. In an interview with Missourinet affiliate, KSSZ Ashcroft seemed to be more confident the affidavit requirement would stay in place, saying the requirement is not implemented by the secretary of state’s office, but by the local authority.
In addition to tossing the affidavit provision in the voter ID law, Callahan’s ruling also forbids the state from advertising or distributing information that photo ID’s are required to vote. It further bars publicizing materials that tell voters they’ll be asked to show photo ID without stipulating the other forms of ID that can be used.