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Missouri's voter ID law challenged as unfair, defended as badly written
Is a central piece of the Missouri voter identification law in line with the state's constitution? The Missouri Supreme Court is on course to deciding.
The provision at issue permits those who arrive at the polls without a photo ID to substitute another form of identification, like a utility bill, and then sign an affidavit saying they are who they purport to be — under penalty of perjury.
The justices heard arguments last week on a challenge brought by Priorities USA, a Democratic-aligned voting rights group, which says the language on the affidavit is so vague and confusing that it results in a form of unconstitutional voter suppression. A lower court agreed.
The affidavit reads, "'I do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting.' Well, what [does] possess mean in that sentence?" Marc Elias, representing Priorities USA, asked at the oral arguments, according to St. Louis Public Radio. "Does that mean I have an ID, but I forgot it at home? At which point, I possess the ID and I can't sign the affidavit, or does it mean I don't have an ID at all?"
The state says the affidavit has not had any effect on turnout but might have been written better.
"There is no individual voter who, while they were at the polls, read the affidavit and said, 'I can't sign this, I find it too confusing. I find it too contradictory,'" argued John Sauer of the Missouri Attorney General's Office, who nonetheless offered to redraft the language to make it more straightforward.
Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.
This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.
In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.
Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.
The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.