Your Vote Matters

The League’s Register & Vote brochure has information on Missouri’s voting laws. If you have questions about voting, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

SAFELY VOTING IN 2020 ELECTIONS

While Missouri has a new mail-in ballot option for 2020, it has several limitations compared to absentee ballots. Click here for a fact sheet of options to vote by mail in 2020.

For the Nov. 3 election, the League of Women Voters is suggesting voters think of October 7 as both the deadline to register to vote or to request either an absentee or a mail-in ballot. Click here if you’re not registered to vote at your current address.

Click here for the Secretary of State’s form to request an absentee or mail-in ballot for the Nov. 3 election. Click here to find contact information for your local election authority.

Information on the candidates and ballot issues will be available in early October on VOTE411.org. Click here for a list of notaries who won’t charge for the service.

Court Rewrites Amendment 3

Two courts recently ruled that the ballot language proposed by legislators in SJR38 was intended to mislead voters. The court’s new language for Amendment 3 asks voters to amend the Constitution to 1) Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees; 2) Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and 3) Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018.

League members preferred language drafted by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Joyce that made clear that Clean Missouri capped lobbyists gifts at $5. Amendment 3 only limits campaign contributions for Senate candidates and by just $100.

Voters in every state senate district approved Clean Missouri in 2018. The measure changed the redistricting process to have a non-partisan demographer use mapping software to propose legislative district maps that would be more fair and competitive. Clean Missouri also added strong language to protect minority communities from vote dilution.

Experts say Amendment 3 would not just overturn the changes voters approved two years ago, it would allow twice the level of gerrymandering typically described as “severe.” 

Hidden in Amendment 3 is language that could make Missouri the only state not using the total population count when drawing legislative districts. Instead, maps could be based on the number of eligible voters. That would leave out 1.5 million Missouri children, as well as immigrants and international students. Click here for a study by the Brennan Center for Justice that says it would be a serious obstacle to communities of color receiving fair representation.

The fiscal note for Amendment 3 says “Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.” Click here to read the fine print. For more information, go to cleanmissouri.org.

More Funding Needed for Safe Elections

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt held a Senate Rules & Administration Committee hearing on election funding on July 22. Republican Director of Elections for St. Louis County Rick Stream testified, “Because of the rapidly changing circumstances and our desire to communicate those changes to our voters, we are incurring unprecedented costs.”

In a guest column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Evelyn Maddox said, “In order to run a safe and fair election this November, Sen. Roy Blunt and other federal leaders must urgently invest in and implement election protection reforms across the country so all Americans have equal access to the ballot box. Voters in Missouri deserve the same voting rights and access as voters in other areas of the country. Click here to read the full text.

The HEROES Act approved by the U.S. House includes provisions to allocate $3.6 billion to expand vote-by-mail options, extend in-person early voting, ensure safe, accessible polling places, expand online and same-day registration and educate voters about their voting options for the November 2020 election.

Celebrate Women’s Vote

August 2020 marked the centennial of the final ratification of the 19th Amendment.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is virginia-minor.png
Virginia Minor

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.

Missouri Voters Approve Medicaid Expansion

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.

League appeals absentee ballot decision

LWVMO and NAACP of Missouri are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of Missouri and Secretary of State Ashcroft. The suit argues that all eligible voters should be able to vote absentee and/or by mail in Missouri without having to obtain a notary seal during the COVID19 pandemic. Trial in the case is expected to occur in early September in Cole County Court.

.

League Fights for Fair Maps

The Missouri House gave final approval to SJR38 on May 13 to ask voters to replace Clean Missouri’s redistricting reforms with a system that allows unprecedented racial and partisan gerrymandering. “Dirty Missouri” will be on the Nov. 3 ballot as Amendment 3.

Hidden in SJR38 is language that could make Missouri the only state not using total population to draw maps after the 2020 Census. 

“This gerrymandering plan gives political parties more power and opens the door to a process that doesn’t count anyone under age 18 or non-citizens when drawing legislative district maps,” says LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “They deserve representation and services just as much as registered voters.”

The Missouri Senate approved SJR38 on Feb. 10. The House ran out of time and passed the flawed Senate language in May without changes. The deceptive ballot language stresses that Amendment 3 bans lobbyist gifts (now capped at $5) and lowers campaign contribution limits (just to Senate candidates and just by $100).

Voters approved Clean Missouri in 2018 to ensure that neither political party gets an unfair advantage when district maps are drawn. While Clean Missouri calls for fair maps, Amendment 3 would allow maps to be rigged to protect incumbent politicians. Click here for a two-minute video explaining a formula to determine if maps are gerrymandered called the Efficiency Gap.

Click to see the full news release or a fact sheet on redistricting. For more on the total population issue, see this May 22 guest column in the St. Louis Dispatch by Nancy J. Miller and Louise T. Wilkerson: Keep clean redistricting process that counts kids.

For more on protections for communities of color in Clean Missouri, see this guest column in the St. Louis American by Louise Wilkerson and John Bowman, President of the St. Louis County NAACP. Follow the Clean Missouri Coalition at Facebook.com/CleanMissouri or https://twitter.com/CleanMissouri.

Photo ID Not Needed to Vote

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.

League, NAACP File Lawsuit to Expand Absentee Voting

To protect the right to vote in 2020, the League of Women Voters of Missouri has joined the NAACP and several individual voters in filing a lawsuit in Cole County Friday that seeks a declaratory judgment that physical distancing and fear of contracting COVID-19 are valid reasons to request an absentee ballot in Missouri. The suit also seeks injunctive relief preventing local election officials from refusing such ballots or requiring them to be notarized.

“Missouri must expand and protect access to the ballot in these unprecedented times,” says LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “We want any Missouri voter who is social distancing in compliance with CDC guidelines to be able to request an absentee ballot in 2020 and return it without a notary seal.”

“Inconsistencies between voting jurisdictions violate the equal protection clause,” says Denise Lieberman, General Counsel for the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “Fear of contracting the coronavirus should be a valid reason to request an absentee ballot. Since election authorities can verify voter signatures, they should be told to accept all ballots without a notary seal this year. Absentee voting either by mail or in person will reduce the crowds at polling places and make them safer for other voters in 2020 elections.”

The state has a new electronic notary system, but the Secretary of State’s office indicates that it won’t work for absentee ballots. To read the League’s news release, click here. For more information or to support the ACLU legal team, click here.

Protecting Votes in 2020 Elections

LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox is calling on elected officials to release up to $20 million in federal funds to make elections more safe, secure and accessible. “We have a potential crisis on the horizon with the upcoming elections, and there are millions of dollars sitting unspent by the Secretary of State that could help local election authorities prepare.”

The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 2 municipal elections is May 20. While the Governor and Secretary of State have not issued any statewide guidance, several local election authorities have said voters can use the excuse that they expect to be confined due to illness or disability. That excuse doesn’t require a notary. A bill just approved by the Missouri House (SB552) allows more voters in August and November elections to request an absentee ballot but does not waive the notary requirement.

The Missouri Voter Protection Coalition (MOVPC) issued the following recommendations to comply with CDC guidelines.

Missouri is one of the few states that requires an excuse to request an absentee ballot and a notarized signature for the completed ballot. In recent letters to the editor, Maddox stressed that it’s time to make voting easier in Missouri.