JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge on Tuesday made clear that local election workers cannot enforce a core requirement in a new voter photo identification law, taking away the teeth of the law in advance of a marquee U.S. Senate election on Nov. 6.
At issue is a new law that had directed voters to present a valid photo ID or sign a sworn statement and present some other form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot.
Senior Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan earlier this month struck down the requirement that voters without proper photo ID sign a sworn statement.
But Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who supports a photo ID law, said the ruling “injected mass confusion” into the voting process just weeks before the pivotal Nov. 6 election between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Ashcroft had said that’s because Callahan’s initial ruling directed “the state” not to require a sworn statement from voters without proper ID. But Ashcroft said enforcing that requirement was local election workers’ responsibility.
Callahan on Tuesday responded by clarifying that his judgment “applies to all persons who act in concert and participation with the Secretary of State and the State of Missouri in administering and certifying elections within the State of Missouri, including local election authorities.”
A request for comment to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office was not immediately returned Tuesday.