Monthly Archives: August 2022
Click here to watch a Sept. 1 webinar with attorney Denise Lieberman explaining how to comply with the new law while it’s being challenged in court.
The League of Women Voters of Missouri (LWVMO) is a plaintiff in two lawsuits challenging provisions of an anti-voter bill (HB1878) that took effect on Aug. 28. The League says the new law violates their staff and volunteers’ right to core political speech and disenfranchises thousands of Missouri citizens who do not have a non-expired government-issued photo ID. Click here for a fact sheet on the new law.
“We are proud of our members’ essential voter registration and education work across the state,” said LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod. “This law criminalizes work we do regularly and, ultimately, harms Missouri voters who rely on the League’s work to ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box.”
McLeod says the new law’s strict ID requirement will force many students, seniors, non-drivers, and people with disabilities to use a provisional ballot that won’t count without a signature match.
HB1878 requires citizens to show a non-expired state-issued photo ID, U.S. passport or military ID to vote, which State records from 2017 showed that more than 275,000 registered voters in Missouri did not have. Voters in past elections, including the August primary, were able to use several other forms of identification, including a voter ID card issued by an election authority, student ID, or recently-expired driver’s license or state ID. The League won previous lawsuits challenging strict photo ID requirements as a violation of the Missouri Constitution.
McLeod stressed that the statute is vaguely worded and does not define what it means to “solicit” voter registration or an absentee ballot application. Failing to comply with these strict and confusing prohibitions would be a Class 3 election offense. “The League has worked since 1919 to educate and empower voters, but now League members are worried that they could permanently lose the right to vote just for helping youth or new citizens register to vote, something that many of them have done for decades.”
The Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (MO NAACP) joins the League in both suits. They are represented in the lawsuits by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is also helping with the free speech case. Plaintiffs in the photo ID case include three individuals who could not vote a regular ballot in future elections.
A new strict photo ID requirement will disenfranchise many students, seniors, non-drivers, and people with disabilities. HB1878 requires voters to show a non-expired government-issued photo ID to vote. Previously, acceptable ID to vote included a voter ID card, student ID, recent utility bill, or driver’s license that had recently expired.
“The League believes the state should be making it easier, not harder, for Missourians to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod said in a release announcing a lawsuit filed by LWVMO and the NAACP. “Many voters used other forms of ID to vote on August 2 and have no idea that the ID rules are tightening for the November 8 election. There’s no evidence of voter impersonation in Missouri, so these extreme restrictions don’t make our elections any safer or more secure.”
Voters without the required ID can cast a provisional ballot, but it won’t count without a signature match. For more information, go to https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections.
The League and Sierra Club held a webinar on the changes at 7 pm on Sept. 1. Click here to watch the video.
On Sept. 7, League members from across the state visited the the Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City to deliver dozens of forms that are now required to register as “voter solicitors.”
“This harsh and confusing new law punishes those who want to make our democracy stronger,” McLeod said. “If found guilty of helping a dozen people to register to vote or handing out blank absentee ballot request forms, a member of the League of Women Voters could be denied the right to vote for the rest of her life.”