Department of Revenue seeks clarification on voter id ruling
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Department of Revenue seeks clarification on voter id ruling

Date: September 18, 2006
By: Kathryn Buschman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians can no longer get a free state ID card that could be needed to vote as early as the Nov.7 general election. Effective Monday, residents have to pay the usual $11 to receive an ID.

Residents used to be able to get a free ID for voting purposes under a law passed in May that requires voters to show a government-issued ID at the polls. However, a Cole County Circuit judge struck down the law last week because it placed an unconstitutional burden on voters.  

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Delbert Scott, said he plans to file an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court sometime this week. "We feel like it is a strong enough case and important enough issue that we ought to challenge it," Scott said. If the decision is overturned voters would be required to show an ID to cast a ballot.

Scott, R-Lowry City, said he expects the attorney general's office to also file an appeal on behalf of the state."The last I saw they were discussing whether or not to appeal it. I expect them to, but that is just my optimistic nature," Scott said.

Scott said the Supreme Court is willing to expedite the hearing and make a ruling before the November elections.

To comply with the judge's ruling, the Department of Revenue stopped giving away identification cards for free Monday. It also stopped running mobile units to obtain cards for individuals in nursing homes, centers for independent living and other facilities for the elderly and disabled.

 "The court order is very broad and it enjoins all employees of the state and that includes the Department of Revenue from implementing the law," said Maura Browning, spokesperson for the Department of Revenue.  

The department also suspended 60 future visits to facilities after the judge's decision. "The court ruling is not specific as to allowing us to carry on then we have to suspend what we've been doing as part of the voter ID law," Browning said. "So that includes the fact that we can no longer give free IDs in our license office and precludes us from sending out our mobile units."

The attorney general's office will file a motion on behalf of the Revenue Department to clarify the department's obligations under the judge's decision.

"We're looking forward to some type of clarification so that we can get back to the job that we think we should be doing at this point, which is issuing those free IDs for voting," Browning said. 

The Department of Revenue has issued more than 2,100 free IDs for voting since June and Browning estimated that 137,000 residents are still in need of an identification card to vote.  

Browning estimated the department's cost of abiding by the law to be around $3 million.