The fate of Missouri’s new voter ID law — a Republican-created mess of unnecessary burdens that looks suspiciously like an attempt to thwart people from voting — is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court.
It will rule on a lower-court judge’s decision throwing out part of the law, which required some people to sign a confusing sworn statement before voting.
The lower court should have thrown out this entire cynical law. But the portion that the court did throw out definitely should stay out in any future ruling.
The claim that significant numbers of individuals are fraudulently voting in modern American elections is a fiction, unsupported by any evidence beyond a few isolated anecdotes — even after the frantic efforts of a national voter-fraud commission appointed by President Donald Trump to ease his bruised ego at having lost the 2016 popular vote.
Republican politicians everywhere still promote the myth of voter fraud with an almost religious fervor. They have a vested political interest in pushing that myth: The GOP faces demographic challenges as America’s population gets younger and more diverse.
Making it harder for young people, minorities and the poor to cast votes won’t affect the nonexistent problem of individual voter fraud.
Missouri Republicans in 2016 won a referendum amending the state constitution to require that voters show photo IDs before voting. In lobbying the public for it, they made it sound like common sense — why not require a photo ID to ensure no one votes twice?
But they left out two crucial points: There was no indication that the “problem” they sought to solve actually existed, and an estimated 220,000 registered voters lacked drivers licenses or other photo IDs. Those voters tend to be poor or minority and so more likely to vote Democratic.
For those without IDs, the law offered workarounds, all of them burdensome. They could present a utility bill or other document showing their address, along with a sworn affidavit, or cast a provisional ballot and come back to the polling place later with identification.
Citizens already must register to vote, a process that covers issues like address and identity, so these other requirements amount to jumping through unnecessary hoops. All of it should have been thrown out.
Senior Cole County Judge Richard Callahan last fall opted instead to invalidate just the affidavit requirement, ruling it was confusing. The state appealed, and the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments late last month.
This law is nothing more than another chapter in the GOP’s ongoing fairy tale of voter fraud, a false story spun with the goal of hampering real people from exercising their right to vote.
Anything that makes that effort less successful is a step in the right direction. The state Supreme Court should uphold the lower court’s ruling.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.