Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Photo ID Law That Could Disenfranchise Thousands of Legal Missouri Voters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2006

Contact: David Becker
at People For the American Way Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Lawsuit Calls New Photo ID Requirements a Violation of Constitutionally Protected Voting Rights

ST. LOUIS—A federal lawsuit was filed today against a new state law that could disenfranchise thousands of Missouri voters who lack the ability to meet new identification requirements.

The lawsuit, which is being filed on behalf of individuals who face the prospect of being unable to vote based on the new law, as well as organizations representing constituents who would likely be disenfranchised by the law, claims that the new requirements represent a violation of the United States Constitution and federal voting laws.

One of the plaintiffs, Maria Frencher of Kansas City, does not have a photo ID, and also lacks the information required in order to procure an ID. Despite having been a registered voter for 13 years, and regularly casting legal ballots in Missouri, Maria will be denied the right to vote a standard ballot in the upcoming election if the Missouri statute stands.

“How can they take my right to vote away from me?” said Maria. “This is America. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen here.”

Maria is just one of an estimated 240,000 registered Missouri voters who lack the proper photo identification now required to vote, according to calculations recently released by Missouri’s Secretary of State. Many of these individuals would face difficult or—in cases like Maria’s—insurmountable obstacles in requiring the ID needed to vote.

“The right to vote is the foundation of American Democracy. It should offend all citizens, of every ideological stripe, that eligible voters like Maria, through absolutely no fault of their own, would lose that right,” said David Becker, an attorney who is part of the legal team working on the case. “If this law is not struck down, there are thousands of eligible voters in Missouri who will find themselves without a way to take part in our democracy.”

“These restrictions are a cynical effort to control the electorate to suit the political needs of the proponents of photo ID; it’s part of a coordinated effort that is going on across the country to prioritize politics over the fundamental rights of eligible Americans to hold their representatives accountable,” added Marcia Johnson-Blanco, another member of the legal team.

The case was filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri and is being brought by a team of national and Missouri-based civil and voting rights attorneys. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the NAACP, Grass Roots Organizing, the Missouri Citizen Education Fund, The Whole Person, Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence, Southwest Center for Independent Living, and individual plaintiffs, including Ms. Frencher, who will find themselves disenfranchised by the voter ID law.