Author Archives: lwvcbc
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 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.
This month marks the centennial of the final ratification of the 19th Amendment. The League’s celebration will be held on Saturday, August 29 at 2:00 p.m. on Zoom.
Author Nicole Evelina will share 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 will include a virtual tour of the Historical Exhibit “She Got the Vote” from the Boone County History & Culture Center.
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.
Cole County Circuit Court Jon Beetem rejected our request for a preliminary injunction to waive the notary requirement. The state chapters of the League of Women Voters and NAACP are sending the absentee lawsuit back to the Supreme Court next month.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.