Monthly Archives: May 2020

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.

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

The legislature and Secretary of State put many limitations on Missouri’s new mail-in ballot option for 2020. First, they have to be requested using a form that can be mailed or submitted in person but not submitted online or by fax. Second, the ballot envelope has to be notarized. Notaries can charge to notarize a mail-in ballot even though the law clearly says a notary can’t charge for notarizing absentee ballots. Finally, mail-in ballots must be returned by US mail and cannot be returned in person to the local election authority. 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.

The Secretary of State web site will have a new absentee ballot request form on August 18. Click here to find contact information for your local election authority.

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

Judge Dismisses Pro-Voter Lawsuits

Cole County Court Judge Jon Beetem has dismissed two lawsuits filed by the Missouri League of Women Voters and the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP which sought to expand absentee voting in 2020 and to challenge the state’s administration of the voter ID law.

 “The League will continue our 100-year fight for the right to vote for all Missourians, which includes calling out the state when the law is not being administered correctly or voters are being misled,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “Voters deserve to have the information and tools they need to safely cast a ballot.” “The ACLU and the Missouri Voters Protection Coalition have filed an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court on the absentee voting litigation.

A ruling 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.