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Advocates: Missourians' Voting Rights Threatened by Amendment 6

Missouri voters will decide the fate of Amendment 6 next month. (
Missouri voters will decide the fate of Amendment 6 next month. (
October 17, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- On next month’s ballot in Missouri there is a new voter ID law that opponents say could take away the rights of thousands of state residents.

Constitutional Amendment 6 would require anyone wishing to vote to verify their identity, citizenship and residence, potentially through government-issued photo identification. This year will be the first presidential election without full protection of the Voting Rights Act, said Advancement Project executive director Judith Brown Dianis, so the burden now falls upon voters and organizations to challenge discriminatory voting laws.

"If experience tells us anything,” Dianis said, “[it's] that state-sanctioned voter suppression still happens, both at the state and local level through the actions of local election officials."

The actual cost to state and local governments if the law is enacted is unknown, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. But it could exceed $2.1 million annually.

Reverend Doctor Cassandra Gould, director of Missouri Faith Voices, said the greatest burden would fall on elderly residents - who may have been born in another state and would be required to obtain new identification documents - and college students, who would normally be allowed to use their student I.D. or an identification from the state where they legally reside.

Gould said that Amendment 6 takes away citizens' rights and opens the floodgates for all types of legislation that could make the process so onerous for certain populations, they would just give up.

"In our minds, it's a new millennial poll tax,” Gould said. “It is the return of the era of Jim and Jane Crow, and we're trying to make sure that that does not occur on our watch."

According to Gould, voting rights advocates have talked to Missourians by phone, on the street and in churches to make sure they understand what Amendment 6 would do, and to encourage them to get to the ballot box on November 8 to vote no.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO