Racists and Republicans (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are disappointed.
I’m not convinced that there’s a significant voter fraud problem to be solved by requiring IDs. (And if there were, it could be solved with less extreme measures, such as provisional ballots). But if we must have voter ID, it should be combined with free, proactive government programs to get IDs into the hands of every single eligible voter in time for election day. But Republicans have shown zero interest in any anti-fraud program that doesn’t promise to disenfranchise eligible voters.
This is an issue that should matter to everyone who favors democracy; but anti-voter laws like Missouri’s disproportionately effect the elderly, the disabled, and poor people (who are disproportionately people of color). I also wonder if it disproportionately effects transsexuals, not only because transsexuals are more likely to be poor, but in addition because being transsexual could create additional issues in acquiring ID. (But it could be that I’m completely off-base about that.)
From the Court’s opinion:
[The Voter ID law] requires each of the individual plaintiffs in this case to present a Missouri driver’s license, a Missouri non-driver’s license, or a United States passport on election day in order to vote. The record reveals that between 3 and 4 percent of Missouri citizens (estimates vary from 169,215 to 240,000 individuals) lack the requisite photo ID. Appellants concede that many of these citizens, including all of the individual plaintiffs in this case, are eligible to vote and, in many cases, are already registered to vote. […]
It is to these citizens that the Court directs its attention, as it determines whether this statute places into jeopardy their ability to exercise their fundamental right to vote under article I, section 25 of the Missouri Constitution. To do so, the Court must examine the required processes for them to obtain a photo ID to determine the extent of the burden it imposes on their right to vote.
1. SB 1014’s Photo-ID Requirement requires payment of money to exercise the right to vote.
Those citizens who do not possess the requisite photo ID, with few exceptions, must expend money to gather the necessary documentation to obtain it in order to exercise their right to vote. […] Many voters who presently lack one of the required photo IDs would have to, at the very least, expend money to obtain a birth certificate. In Missouri, obtaining a birth certificate requires at least a $15 payment, which, Appellants conceded at oral argument, is not a de minimis cost. If the citizen requires documentation beyond a birth certificate, the costs are greater.
Although this Court has not previously had occasion to evaluate the validity of putting a direct or indirect price or fee on the franchise under the Missouri Constitution, the United States Supreme Court held, in the context of addressing a $1.50 poll tax: “Wealth or fee-paying has . . . no relation to voting qualifications; the right to vote is too precious, too fundamental to be so burdened.” Harper, 383 U.S. at 670. While requiring payment to obtain a birth certificate is not a poll tax, as was the $1.50 in Harper, it is a fee that qualified, eligible, registered voters who lack an approved photo ID are required to pay in order to exercise their right to free suffrage under the Missouri Constitution. Harper makes clear that all fees that impose financial burdens on eligible citizens’ right to vote, not merely poll taxes, are impermissible under federal law. There can be no lesser requirement under Missouri law.[…]
The trial court also found that the citizens who currently lack the requisite photo ID are generally “the least equipped to bear the costs.” For Missourians who live beneath the poverty line, the $15 they must pay in order to obtain their birth certificates and vote is $15 that they must subtract from their meager ability to feed, shelter, and clothe their families. The exercise of fundamental rights cannot be conditioned upon financial expense. […]
2. SB 1014’s Photo-ID Requirement requires time and ability to navigate bureaucracies in order to vote.
Persons who wish to vote who do not already have the requisite photo IDs must arrange to obtain them by presenting a birth certificate or passport and, if necessary, proof of name changes. To do so requires both funds and advance planning to allow for the six to eight weeks that the record shows it takes to obtain a Missouri birth certificate (which is more time than exists between the date of this decision and the next general election). Once the birth certificate is in hand, the voter must use it to obtain one of the requisite photo IDs. “This is plainly a cumbersome procedure.” […]
Evaluating a similar procedure mandated by the Georgia photo ID law (which was found to violate the federal constitution), a Georgia federal district court concluded that “many voters who are elderly, disabled, or have certain physical or mental problems simply cannot navigate that process or any long waits successfully.”
[Edited after the initial posting to add paragraph three.]