In Letter, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition Demands Ashcroft Stop Endangering Voters’ Access to Ballot
MISSOURI – Today, nearly 40 organizations are sending a letter to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft demanding that he offer clarity for elections officials who are tasked with enforcing Missouri’s controversial photo ID law, which will go into effect on June 1.
After the law was put in place, Ashcroft and Governor Greitens promised the voters of Missouri that the new process and requirements would not stop people from voting. However, there are ambiguities in the law that could spell disaster for election officials and voters if Ashcroft, the state’s top elections official, does not offer additional guidance.
“We are weeks away from a historic, controversial curtailing of access to the ballot in Missouri,” said Denise Lieberman, Co-Director of Advancement Project’s Power and Democracy Program, and Coordinator of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “Still, voters have more questions than answers. The pervasive confusion among voters, unfortunately, is not a surprise. At heart, photo ID requirements are about making harder to vote. It is critical that Secretary Ashcroft provide crucial guidance to elections officials and voters. Importantly, the losers here will be valid Missouri voters. Mismanaging this process endangers the votes of many Missourians who expect to be able to cast their ballots.”
The letter, which gives Ashcroft a deadline of May 25, 2017 for a response, makes clear that Missouri’s new photo ID requirements already threaten to deter, confuse, exclude and alienate voters who lack the required non-expired state-issued photo ID to vote – disproportionately seniors, low-wage workers, women, voters with disabilities, students, and voters of color. Against that backdrop, the ambiguity in the law’s processes, lack of adequate outreach to voters, as well the gap in funding for the photo ID law, risk blocking valid Missouri voters from their rightful place in our democracy. “Clear guidance to local election authorities and broad voter education is essential to help minimize the confusion, long lines and deterrent effects of the law,” the letter asserts.
“Ultimately, this is plain and simple: Unless there is much more guidance and outreach to voters, the photo ID law will keep valid voters from accessing their right to vote. Let’s not add fuel to the fire and offer needed guidance to election officials and voters.”
Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.