Sunday, February 5

Voting changes win approval in Missouri House, now head to governor | Politics

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House sent a series of election changes to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk Thursday, including a renewed attempt to require voters to present a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, included a series of GOP election initiatives that mirror some of the debunked claims that there were widespread voting irregularities in the 2020 election.

Passage of the package on a 97-47 vote checks off a key goal of Republicans as they head toward the 2022 election.

Democrats won some changes to the bill as it moved through the Senate earlier this month, including the authorization of no-excuse absentee voting and the mitigation of certain GOP proposals.

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Under the legislation, voters without a photo ID on Election Day could cast a provisional ballot. These provisional ballots may be verified if a voter returns to the polling place with a photo ID or the election authority verifies the ballot signature matches a signature on file.

Voting rights activists and minority lawmakers say photo ID requirements negatively affect minorities and seniors, many of whom don’t have identification cards.

“It’s an attempt to restrict their participation in the process,” said Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City.

“This bill is horrible,” said Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis. “This is a shameful day.”

“This is absolute BS,” added Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis.

Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, have tried to enact a photo ID process for years, but the idea has not been supported in the courts.

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, the lone Black member of the GOP caucus, said he previously voted against photo ID because he was worried it would disenfranchise minorities.

“Any time you talk about voting rights, it’s something we’ve historically been denied,” said Dogan, who is running for St. Louis County executive.

On Thursday, Dogan backed the legislation, saying it had enough safeguards in the measure.

Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson, said she was disappointed by the compromises made by her Democratic colleagues in the Senate, who negotiated the outcome over the course of a nine-hour filibuster earlier this month.

“If there are hills to die on, this is it,” Proudie said.

The bill also prohibits election authorities from receiving private funding. It also would allow voters the option to register with a political party and require cybersecurity reviews of local election authorities by the secretary of state or a qualified firm.

The bill also prohibits the use of touchscreen voting machines.

The Democratic amendment allows people to vote absentee without an excuse for a two week period before an election. The provision, which would allow voters to vote at designated sites before an election, is tied to the voter ID provision and will be canceled if courts strike down the photo ID requirement.

Under current law, Missourians can vote absentee in advance of an election if they are incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability, away from their home county, incarcerated, religious exemptions, or if they’re working at the polls.

People or groups who want to register more than 10 voters must register with the Secretary of State or potentially face fines or jail time.

The legislation is House Bill 1878.

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