For more than a decade, Advancement Project has worked closely with community partners in Missouri to fight back against proposals to weaken the state’s protections for the right to vote. Missouri is one of the few states where courts have recognized that language in its state constitution confers a fundamental right to vote. In 2016, Missouri voters were asked to carve out exceptions to those robust protections in a ballot measure allowing implementation of a restrictive photo ID law — a law found to violate Missouri’s constitutional right to vote – and a law that disproportionately impacts African American voters.
“It’s important to look at Photo ID in Missouri in context. They’ve been pushing this for some time. The Ferguson uprising put them over the edge. Photo ID is backlash against the rising political power of Black communities in Missouri.” — Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, Advancement Project
Along with our partners, Advancement Project coordinated a statewide coalition to bring attention to the measure through a statewide education and media campaign, sponsoring polling and messaging on the initiative, training organizers and activists, and taking the cause to the streets through robust public actions. Among other activities, our partners focused on the rising political power of African American millennials and Ferguson activists through an innovative digital media campaign, #DontTouchMyVote, which culminated a widely-attended #BlackVoteBrunch. While Amendment 6 ultimately passed, our partners were successful in defeating the measure in Missouri’s major metropolitan areas by a two-to-one margin.
The struggle to defend the right to vote continues in Missouri – and is now back in the courts. The restrictive photo ID requirement allowed under Amendment 6 went into effect in June 2017 and soon thereafter we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP and League of Women Voters challenging the implementation of the law and uplifting the right to vote. (http://bit.ly/MOVoterID)
“When my ancestors, who were slaves in this country, first won the right to vote, the reaction was to pass Jim Crow laws to keep us from voting — things like literacy tests and poll taxes,” said St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, at a community rally organized by Advancement Project and partners at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis the day before the photo ID law went into effect in Missouri. “Voter ID is another poll tax.”
- Kevin McDermott and Celeste Bott, As Missouri photo ID voting law goes into effect, opponents equate it to ‘Jim Crow’, St. Louis Post Dispatch (June 1, 2017)
- Kevin McDermott, Civil Rights Groups Sue to Block Missouri’s Photo ID law, St. Louis Post Dispatch (June 8, 2017)
Missouri Press Articles:
- Ashley Jost, Activists, politicians unite over brunch to raise awareness about Voter ID measure, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Nov. 5, 2016)
- Alice Speri, Black Activists in Missouri are Fighting to Preserve the Right to Vote, The Intercept (Aug. 20, 2016)
- Ari Berman, One of the Most Racially Divided States in the Country Just Passed a New Voter-ID Bill, The Nation (May 13, 2016)