Friday, September 22, 2006

Voter ID arguments set for Oct. 4

JEFFERSON CITY The battle over Missouri’s voter identification law is heading quickly to the state’s highest court.

The Missouri Supreme Court Thursday set Oct. 4 as a date to hear arguments in the case.
A Cole County judge last week threw out the law, which required voters to present state-issued photo IDs at the polls.

Circuit Judge Richard Callahan declared the law to be an infringement of the fundamental right to vote, ruling that the law placed an extra burden on the elderly, poor, minorities, women and others who have a harder time obtaining a state-issued ID.

In appealing the ruling, Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to put the case on a fast track as the Nov. 7 general election approaches.
“Changing rules in the weeks leading up to an election is problematic,” Nixon’s office wrote in the appeal. “Voters need certainty as to what the requirements for voting will be. Also, election authorities need to be able to train poll workers and election judges with a single set of requirements. The alternative will assure confusion for voters and poll workers, resulting in chaos on Election Day.”

The high court agreed to set a hearing for Oct. 4, the same day it will hear an appeal of a ruling that forced a proposed cigarette tax increase back on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Also Thursday, Callahan denied efforts to allow the state to continue to issue free non-driver’s license photo identification cards to prospective voters. When Callahan threw out the voter ID law, the Department of Revenue said that, as of Monday, it stopped issuing the free IDs to voters as required by the law.

The agency began charging $11 for the IDs.

Nixon’s office asked the judge to clarify his ruling as to whether it prevented the Department of Revenue from issuing the free IDs. Callahan denied the motion.

To reach Tim Hoover, call 1-(573)-634-3565 or send e-mail to thoover@kcstar.com.

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