Missouri Voter Protection Coalition Denounces Ashcroft’s Attack on Right to Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          
May 31, 2017
Contact: Ricardo A. Ramírez, rramirez@advancementproject.org


In Events Across State, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition Denounces Ashcroft’s Attack on Right to Vote, Mismanagement of Photo ID Law

MISSOURI – On the eve of implementation of the Missouri photo I.D. law, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, community leaders and elected officials decried mismanagement of the law’s rollout by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. Giving concrete examples of how voters stand to risk confusion and a more taxing path to the ballot box, the groups denounced that this photo I.D. law has always been about making it harder to vote.

Following the events, members of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition released the following statements:

Nimrod Chapel, President, Missouri NAACP:

“Today our brothers and sisters stood in front of where Dred Scott made a case for his status as a citizen. He called on the government to recognize him not as property but as a person. Indeed, he demanded to have his voice recognized as that of a human being who belongs in society. One civil war and 171 years later, African Americans in Missouri are forced to ask the same question: How much does our voice matter? Any administration that recognizes our voice as part of this process would adopt common-sense measures that foster participation and inclusion. Unfortunately, that is not what we’ve seen from Secretary of State Ashcroft. Judging by his actions, we do not seem to matter enough. The NAACP will keep fighting to make voting easier, not harder, and ensure that every eligible voter should have a voice”

Organization for Black Struggle:

“For African Americans, this photo I.D. law represents a jerk back to a time when we had to jump through racist and unrealistic hoops — like counting jelly beans or memorizing the U.S. Bill of Rights — to practice the most basic right in this so-called democracy. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, the Organization for Black Struggle will continue the fight against unjust laws and any attempts to make Black people second class citizens and that exclude us from full participation in this society.

Denise Lieberman, Co-Director of Power & Democracy Advancement Project’s national office and coordinator of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition

“Missouri’s new photo ID requirements threaten to deter, confuse, exclude and alienate voters who lack the required state-issued photo ID to vote. These voters are disproportionately voters of color, seniors, low-wage workers, women, voters with disabilities, and students. With Missouri’s new photo ID law set to go into effect tomorrow, we decry a law designed to keep certain people from their rightful place in our democracy. Missouri’s photo ID restriction is unnecessary, it is costly, it is confusing, and invariably this law will cut people out. Our state’s top election’s official must take further steps to ensure to issue definitive guidance that will help local election authorities train poll workers, and embark on a robust public education effort. Advancement Project remains dedicated to working with grass roots partners on the front lines of the fight for the right to vote because we know that access to the ballot gives people access to their power in fight for justice.”


“ProgressWomen has worked since 2010 to inform Missouri voters that efforts to institute mandatory Voter ID regulations is punitive and just plain wrong. A group that includes women of all backgrounds and zip codes, we understand clearly that this is voter intimidation and suppression at its worst. We are disgusted that Secretary of State Ashcroft supports these efforts and has purposely delayed educating voters on the new voting rules.”

Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice:

“Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice is proud to stand with our fellow coalition partners in supporting Missourians’ right to vote without fear, confusion or intimidation. We urge Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to issue crucial guidance to both election officials and voters about how the new voter ID law will be implemented. Both Secretary Ashcroft and Governor Greitens must stand by their promise that no voter will be turned away and ensure every Missourian has access to their fundamental right to vote.”

Disa Farris of Mid-Missouri Progressives:

“This discriminatory and unimplementable law, enacted by the Republican state legislature and the Governor, further disenfranchises Missouri citizens who are already underrepresented at the polls from years of economic injustice: persons of color, women, the poor, the disabled, young voters, and senior citizens. All votes count. Our state legislature should seize the opportunity to ease the path to voting, embracing a citizenry of empowered voters, rather than being complicit in a plan to build a population of second class citizens.”

Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director, ACLU of Missouri

“Missouri politicians made a clear promise that this law was not about disenfranchising voters– not fully funding it says otherwise. It is the government’s job to ensure voting is fair and accessible to all registered voters in Missouri. We want to make sure the government keeps its promise to its citizens.”

Caroline Pufalt, volunteer conservation chair, Missouri chapter Sierra Club:

“The Sierra Club believes that we best make progress toward goals, such as clean air and water, clean energy and vibrant public lands, through a healthy democracy in which all citizens have an equal voice. Unfortunately the new photo I.D. law creates barriers to voting for many of Missouri’s voters who more often bear the brunt of poor environmental quality.”

Revered Dr. Rodney Williams from NAACP, Kansas City Chapter:

“We are in a battle fighting for the vote. The reason this fight is so important is because the vote is the only political instrument America has at its disposal to save herself from political suicide.”

Donna Hoch, League of Women Voters/Kansas City/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties (LWV/KC/J/C/P):

“The League of Women Voters is here today to help spread the word that Missouri voters and Missouri election workers need better information and better support from the Missouri Secretary of State about the new photo ID law.”

Nancy J. Miller, Co-President, League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis

“Evidence shows there is no voter impersonation fraud in Missouri. When Citizens in Missouri go to the polls, we are who we say we are. This new law has no effect on voter registration or absentee voting. This is a solution in search of a problem! Whereas free photo IDs are promised for all 220,000 voters who lack one, procedures and assistance for obtaining them are yet to be seen.”

Anita Russell, National Board Member of the NAACP:

“Requiring people to show photo ID does not solve any problems. Rather, it is a gimmick that—as we’ve seen in other states – inevitably leads to blocking people from the ballot, especially people of color, young voters, seniors, and people with disabilities. Ample evidence from other states shows that photo ID is purposely manufactured to keep people from voting.”

Pat Jones, A. Philip Randolph Institute:

“The photo ID law rollout has been mired in confusion, lack of direction, inadequate funding, and disregard of Missourians’ fundamental right to vote. Voting is the one time we are all equal – young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. But that doesn’t work if some are denied a voice. Our founder, Asa Philip Randolph said, ‘If you are comfortable with my oppression then you are my oppressor.’”

James Stites, What U Can Do:

“We have seen how inadequate implementation of photo ID laws in other states, including those with affidavit options like Missouri, create barriers to voting on election day and relegate voters without a government issued photo ID to a second-class status. Missouri’s new photo ID requirements already threaten to deter.”

Marvin E. Sands, Jr., AARP Missouri

“Voting is a fundamental freedom and right. Don’t allow others to take this freedom and right away from us.”