Poll workers in Ferguson, Missouri, have asked voters to present photo identification before they cast their ballots, National Bar Association President Pamela Meanes told ThinkProgress. Citizens who can't produce it have been asked to provide two additional forms of identification, according to Meanes.
If the reports are true, that's a serious problem, because photo ID is not required to vote in the state.
Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberty Union, told Vox that it's a serious cause for concern, and possibly a type of unlawful intimidation, if people are asked to produce more identification than the law requires in order to vote.
Ferguson, of course, has been in the national spotlight since unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August, and law enforcement officials used militarized tactics against citizens who demonstrated to demand an arrest in the case. One of the many interesting details to emerge about Ferguson is how little elected officials reflect its racial demographics — the city is about 67 percent black, but its mayor and chief of police are white, its school board has zero black members, and one out of six city council members is black.
Given this year's heightened tensions over civil rights in the predominantly black community, one would hope officials there would be extra careful to ensure that elections are conducted by the book.
A representative of the Missouri Secretary of State's office sent this statement to Vox:
Our office called the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners regarding complaints over requests for photo identification at the polls. St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners has contacted each precinct in the area to make sure all poll workers are implementing the law correctly. As always, our office will continue to provide support to our state's 116 local election authorities. This is also a good time to remind Missouri voters that acceptable forms of ID include anything issued by the state or federal government, such as a driver's license or voter ID card; an ID issued by a public or private Missouri institution such as a student ID from a university or vocational school; a current utility bill, bank statement, or other government document that includes the name and address of the voter; and finally, a driver's license or state ID card issued by another state.