Court Rejects Photo ID Rules

The Missouri Supreme Court in January permanently struck down a portion of Missouri’s voter ID law.  Election officials will not be allowed to require a photo ID to vote or represent in advertising and materials that a photo ID is required to vote.

In Priorities USA v. Missouri, the court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that the affidavit portion of Missouri’s voter ID law was “misleading and contradictory” by inferring that a photo ID is required to vote when the law in fact allows voters to vote with non-photo ID.  The court also acknowledged the fundamental nature of the right to vote under the Missouri Constitution, noting that the right to vote and right to equal protection under the Missouri constitution are “even more extensive than those provided by the federal constitution.” 

The injunction that was issued just before the 2018 midterm elections is now permanent.  Voters who present a non-photo ID cannot be asked to sign an affidavit and cast a regular ballot.  And, election officials cannot represent to voters that a photo ID is required to vote. 

The League expects a decision soon in its lawsuit against the Secretary of State on implementation of the voter ID law.

Fight for Fair Maps

The League of Women Voters is working to defend Clean Missouri (Amendment 1). LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox testified against HJR76 and HJR101, saying “Missouri voters do not want to drop Amendment 1’s independent demographer, give political parties more power, hide the data used for the final maps, or set a weaker race equity standard.”

Metro St. Louis Vice President Angie Dunlap told Senators at a Jan. 14 hearing that voters want transparency and fair maps to have a truly representative government. She said, “League members from across the state are very concerned about proposals to override the will of the people who voted for Clean Missouri in 2018.She criticized SJR38 for switching from using total population to draw maps to Citizen Voting Age Population.  That bill could go to the Senate floor on Jan. 29.

LWVMO Secretary Louise Wilkerson said, “Instead of improving our redistricting process after the 2020 Census, SJR38 would give political parties more power and allow an unprecedented level of racial and political gerrymandering.”

NAACP Missouri State Conference President Rod Chapel said, “SJR38 would not just reverse the reforms 62 percent of voters supported, it would drag Missouri even further back with new tricks to make redistricting more partisan, more secretive, and more unfair than ever before, resulting in some of the worst gerrymandering in the nation.”

Sale on 2020 Calendars

The League’s 2020 calendars are now on sale for just $5 each, plus shipping and handling. To order yours, click here.

LWVUS entry in Rose Bowl Parade

LWVUS kicked off 2020’s centennial of women’s suffrage with a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
https://pasadenaweekly.com/rose-parade-float-years-of-hope-years-of-courage-celebrates-centennial-of-the-19th-amendment-ratification/?fbclid=IwAR0HOnT0cPlkYB90MgRYqwxti3-6tQBPtaNS1moWOQxEnJVi6GRKhjLoNEk

Respect Missouri Voters

“Respect the voters’ will, quit attacking Clean Missouri” is the headline on a letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox.

The letter comments on a quote by Dean Plocher that said he and other opponents of Clean Missouri wouldn’t “be overturning the will of the voters” if they put redistricting back on the ballot. Maddox says in the letter, “In fact, the legislature has a worrisome record of overturning Missouri voters on multiple issues, including puppy mills and casino tax revenue for education.

“After the 2010 Census, it took two years to win court approval of new maps for Missouri’s House and Senate districts that were drawn behind closed doors to protect incumbents and their parties. About 90 percent of races under the current maps have not been competitive.

“Amendment 1 will make sure that neither party gets an unfair advantage when maps are drawn and makes racial fairness central to the process. Legislative leaders from both parties will have a role in selecting an independent demographer who will use clear guidelines and state-of-the-art software to draw maps that will then be reviewed by a citizen commission that must hold public hearings. That’s what 62 percent of voters supported.”

State agrees to improve voter registration to settle lawsuit

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.

St. Louis League Celebrates Centennial

More than 150 guests attended a November 13 gala at the Sheldon to mark the 100th Anniversary of the St. Louis League. Many toured the Green Room where early meetings of the suffragists who founded the League were held.

Betsey Bruce hosted the program to honor League presidents from the past 100 years. LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox gave each honoree an engraved photo frame. She also presented a certificate to Gay Gellhorn to honor her grandmother, Edna Gellhorn, who served as President of the Missouri League from 1919-21 and 1927-29.

Gay Gellhorn and Evelyn Maddox
Edna Fischel Gellhorn

Fall Workshop Focuses on Climate Change as League Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The League learned ways to educate the public on the climate crisis and advocate for changes at the state and local level at the November 2 Fall Workshop in Sedalia.

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Carolyn Amparan

Carolyn Amaparan from the Climate Reality Project stressed the urgency of the climate crisis. While 97 percent of scientists believe humans are causing the climate to change, polls show almost half of Missouri voters deny that fact. Impacts for the state include more days with temperatures above 95 degrees, weather catastrophes, and numerous health issues.

“Renewable energy is cheaper now than other sources of conventional energy,” Amparan said. LWVCBC member Dick Parker advocated for ways to reduce harmful greenhouse gas production, from shuttering coal-powered plants to switching to electric cars with batteries powered by wind and solar energy. (See the handouts or click here to see their presentations).

President Evelyn Maddox (right) recognized past LWVMO Presidents Kathleen Boswell, Mary Merritt, Deborah Waite Howard, Linda McDaniel, Elaine Blodgett and Sydell Shayer.

The League celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a special presentation and a booklet of its history. Former Presidents received a certificate recognizing them for their dedication and leadership.

President Evelyn Maddox summarized expectations for local Leagues under the Making Democracy Work and People Powered Fair Maps grants from LWVUS. She said those grants will help local Leagues become  more technologically sufficient, more aware of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, and on the road to long-term financial sustainability. Louise Wilkerson led an exercise on how to local Leagues can overcome obstacles to diversity.

Nancy Copenhaver and Marilyn McLeod gave tips on legislative advocacy, with Joan Hubbard adding an update on no-excuse early voting in Missouri.
Angie Dunlap tries out the new suffragist cutout.

Focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Cecilia Belser-Patton and LWVMO Secretary Louise Wilkerson

At the LWVMO Fall Planning Conference, Cecilia Belser-Patton from Jobs with Justice participated in a panel with Louise Wilkerson and state president Evelyn Maddox. They discussed intentional relationship building and welcoming all voices to the League, including persons of color, youth, men, LGBTQIA and low-income women.

“We can learn to move forward in ways that are inclusive…and engage people in ways that we haven’t before,” Belser-Patton said. She stressed the need to educate Missouri voters on the issues and then get them to vote based on their self-interest and shared values rather than political party.

The board of directors adopted the following DEI policy at the September 25 meeting:
The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy.

There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.

Evelyn Maddox testifies in Photo ID Trial

President Evelyn Maddox testified on Aug. 20 that Missouri voters are still confused about what identification they need to present at the polls despite extensive education efforts by League volunteers. Maddox is pictured below with Advancement Project lawyers Denise Lieberman and Sabrina Khan, Gillian Wilcox from the ACLU, Executive Director Jean Dugan, and Metro St. Louis officers Nancy Miller and Nancy Price. The group was in Jefferson City for the trial in the League’s case with the NAACP challenging the Secretary of State’s implementation of the photo ID law.