People across the globe are showing their generosity today by helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, or giving to their favorite non-profit organizations. Consider donating to the League or contacting your legislator to support COVID relief. Giving Tuesday 2020 emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing.
Dozens of League members were among the 1,400 volunteers who helped with 2020 Election Protection efforts. The 866-OUR-VOTE Hotline responded to 1,265 voting tickets from Missouri on Election Day, and a total of 2,521 matters from Missouri during the general election voting period.
The League’s Register & Vote brochure has information on Missouri’s voting laws.
Voters narrowly approved Amendment 3 on Nov. 3, overturning redistricting reforms voters approved two years ago. As legislative redistricting proceeds under the new rules in 2021, the League will continue to fight for fair maps or transparency in redistricting.
Amendment 3 could allow twice the level of gerrymandering typically described as “severe,” but it doesn’t have to. The League is especially concerned about language calling for “one person one vote” since it could make Missouri the only state not using the total population count when drawing legislative districts. That would leave out 1.5 million Missouri children. Click here for a study by the Brennan Center for Justice that calls it a serious obstacle to communities of color receiving fair representation.
“We are committed to ensuring as fair an outcome as possible when new maps are drawn,” says Clean Missouri’s Sean Nicholson. “Amendment 3 was written to allow for truly radical gerrymandering, but it does not require it. The broad bipartisan coalition that passed Clean Missouri will be active and engaged in the 2021 redistricting process to ensure that voters and communities come first in new maps, not politicians.”
The fiscal note for Amendment 3 said “Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.” Click here to read the full text.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against the state chapters of the League of Women Voters and NAACP in their absentee ballot lawsuit on Oct. 9. The petitioners sought to protect the right to vote guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution and waive the notary requirement for absentee and mail-in ballots in 2020 elections.
“We are disappointed that the court didn’t waive the notary rule to protect voters’ health during the pandemic,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “We are grateful, however, for the justices’ reminder that absentee rules leave it to the voter to determine if they expect to be confined due to illness on Election Day.” Voters can use the second excuse to vote absentee without a notary if they expect to be confined due to illness or are caring for someone who is ill or disabled.
August 2020 marked the centennial of the final ratification of the 19th Amendment.
At the League’s virtual celebration, author Nicole Evelina shared the story of Virginia Minor, the Missouri suffragist who wanted to vote and took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1874!
The celebration included a virtual tour of the Historical Exhibit “She Got the Vote” from the Boone County History & Culture Center. Click here for a video shared by the St. Louis League.
On August 4, Missouri became the 38th state to approve Medicaid Expansion. Voters narrowly approved Amendment 2 “to adopt Medicaid Expansion for persons 19 to 64 years old with an income level at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.” This will apply to individuals making under $17,000 or couples earning under $23,000 per year.
Oklahoma voters also recently approved Medicaid Expansion. Experiences in other states have shown improved health outcomes and cost savings. In Missouri, more than 90,000 children and 23,000 adults lost their coverage in the past year. Amendment 2 would make it easier for 230,000 low-income Missourians to see their doctors and receive needed medical services. Amendment 2 is designed to create thousands of health care jobs and increase state revenue by nearly $2 billion a year.
Since 2014, by not expanding Medicaid, Missouri has turned away over $15.5 billion which could have been used to improve our health care. The Center for Health Economics and Policy at Washington University conducted an analysis and concluded that Missouri Medicaid Expansion is budget neutral with possible savings of $39 million. Other independent studies have shown cost savings could reach $1 billion per year by 2026.
The League of Women Voters supports Medicaid Expansion. For a narrated PowerPoint presentation, click here.
LWVMO developed an urgent resolution “Racial Justice for Black People and All People of Color” that was overwhelmingly approved at the LWVUS National Convention. More than 20 state leagues cosponsored the resolution to advocate throughout our country for the eradication of systemic racism within every level of government; for the end of excessive force and brutality in law enforcement; and for equal protection under the law regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation.
A ruling in the Priorities USA case earlier this year said election authorities cannot require voters without a photo ID to sign an affidavit to have their vote count. On the last day of session, the legislature passed SB631 which specifies that voters who are ill or at high risk of contracting COVID-19 can cast an absentee ballot without a notary; and allows all other voters in Missouri to vote by mail, with a notary. The new statute doesn’t waive the notary requirement for healthy voters under age 65.
An attempt to tighten the state’s photo ID law was withdrawn from SB 631; therefore, several non-photo IDs remain acceptable to vote. The list includes a military or student ID, current utility bill or bank statement, voter notification card from the election authority, or other government document. Voters casting a ballot in person must present a valid form of ID to vote. Voters casting ballots by mail must submit a copy of their ID if they are voting for the first time since registering in the jurisdiction.
The League of Women Voters was founded on Feb. 14, 1920. To celebrate that centennial, 300 local and state Leagues in all 50 states held activities to stress that “Women Power the Vote” in 2020.
“The nonpartisan League was founded to help American women exercise their hard-fought right to vote,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “A hundred years after getting suffrage, women now outnumber men among registered voters. For the four elections in 2020, women will power the vote. Our founders fought to get the 19th Amendment passed 100 years ago, and we honor that long battle by educating and empowering all voters so that each can play a critical role in shaping our country.”
LWV of Missouri sent thousands of suffragist valentines to Missouri legislators, League members and friends of the League. LWVMO’s eight local Leagues held a variety of activities in addition to voter registration drives.
On Feb. 8, the Kansas City/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties League hosted a presentation on activist women’s organizations by K. David Hanzlick, the author Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality: Women’s Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas gave Sandy Eeds a proclamation recognizing LWV of Kansas City for 100 years of working to educate and inform voters. In turn, the League presented each council member a certificate of appreciation for running for office and serving the public.
LWV of Metro St. Louis volunteers delivered cookies to workers at several local election authorities on Valentine’s Day. The St. Louis League is also hosting Suffragist Cinema on March 8, showing the movie Iron Jawed Angels: Lead Follow or Get out of the Way.
LWV of Sedalia/Pettis County presented a history lesson of women’s suffrage since 1848 and the formation of the League. State Fair Community College teachers have agreed to give extra credit for students who attend and write about what they learned from the Feb. 11 event.
LWV of Columbia-Boone County hosted a program on February 11 called “Every Day in Every Way, How Local Elections Affect Your Daily Life.” Barbara Hoppe and Janet Thompson spoke about the impact of local elected officials are in our lives. The Columbia League sent a special valentine to elected officials to thank them for their service.
LWV of Southwest Missouri held several voter registration drives, including “Alamo Votes” at Alamo Drafthouse in Springfield that included education and a survey about voting motivation. An updated web site http://lwvswmo.org/ went live on Feb. 14.
The state of Missouri has agreed to improve voter registration at Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) license offices to settle a League lawsuit against the Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue (DOR). The lawsuit filed by LWV of Missouri and the A. Philip Randolph Institute in April 2018 accused the state of violating the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by not automatically updating voter information after residents change addresses.
As part of the settlement, DOR will redirect residents to the Secretary of State’s voter registration website when they change their address at a license office. DOR also agreed to improve voter registration services by changing in-person and mailed change-of-address requests, conduct audits, publish data and designate an NVRA coordinator to ensure compliance with the settlement. The agreement provides court supervision for two years.
“Each election, disenfranchisement occurs when Missouri voters appear at the polls and find out that they are not registered at their current address,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox.”While there are other improvements the League would like to see to make it easier to register and vote, these changes at DMV license offices will bring Missouri closer to full compliance and reduce the number of qualified voters being shut out of the political process.”
Click here for an Associated Press story from Nov. 21 about the settlement.