Category Archives: Uncategorized

Members Register as Voter Solicitors

Members delivered more than 100 signed voter solicitation forms to the Secretary of State’s office on Sept. 7 to comply with HB1878.

League Challenges HB1878

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.

Learn about new voter ID rules, restrictions on voter registration, absentee ballots

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 should check the expiration date on their driver’s license.

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.”

League Supports Reproductive Rights

The U.S. House recently passed two bills to protect the right to access reproductive health care. Passage is unlikely in the U.S. Senate this year.

The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) would protect the right to access abortion nationwide by providing a federal safeguard against abortion bans and restrictions.

The Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act would reaffirm the right to travel out-of-state to seek abortion care and to help those who do.

LWVUS Convention Approves Expanded Making Democracy Work Campaign

Missouri sent 17 delegates to Denver, with another dozen virtual delegates and two observers.

The League of Women Voters added direct election of the president to its Making Democracy Work campaign at the 2022 National Convention in Denver. Delegates to the hybrid convention also narrowly approved a structural transformation proposal to move to a unified dues system and eliminate annual Per Member Payments (PMP) by 2024.

Oct. 2 Book Discussion

The League’s DEI Book Group is now reading Braiding Sweetgrass – Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

League members previously read the The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGee and Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl. Watch for a link to sign up for the next DEI Book Discussion on Zoom at 4 pm on Sunday, Oct. 2.

Governor Signs Congressional District Map

The Missouri Senate gave final approval to a new congressional district map before adjourning on May 13. Experts say it will likely keep a 6-2 partisan split in the Missouri delegation. The League is concerned that it splits 10 counties and the 3rd District is not compact. Click here to see the new lines.

The Missouri House approved a “least change” map for congressional districts on Jan. 19. A few Republicans had blocked action in the Senate, promoting a 7-1 partisan gerrymander and refusing to go to conference. The House proposed this revised map the final week of session. The Governor signed it with little time to spare before election authorities need to get information to voters in the military.

The League shared research with legislators showing that 46.5 percent of Missouri voters supported Democrats in recent elections for Governor, U.S. Senate and President.

Legislature Approves Anti-Voter Bill, Adjourns Without Changing Citizen Initiative Petition Process

League members from across the state joined more than 100 voting rights advocates in Jefferson City on May 3. LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod credited a strong grassroots effort for the legislature’s failure to pass HJR79 to limit citizen initiative petitions.

“The initiative petition process is a sacred and trusted right of the citizens of Missouri,” McLeod had testified. “Only 28 of 69 citizen-initiated Constitutional amendments have ever been approved. Many more proposed initiatives never got enough signatures to make it on the ballot.”

The General Assembly did give final approval to HB1878, an anti-voter bill that the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition says places “unnecessary, unconstitutional, and burdensome voting restrictions that undermine Missourians’ right to vote and undermine free and fair elections in Missouri.”

“Limiting the right to vote for some citizens is a limit to the right to vote for all citizens,” says McLeod. In a letter to Governor Parson, she stressed the League’s concern about language that could limit its voter service activities. “This legislation provides unnecessary roadblocks to our most basic right, the right to vote,” she wrote. “Among its many provisions, it requires an extremely limited form of ID to be able to vote which will disenfranchise thousands of citizens who are fully qualified to vote, including voters whose driver’s license recently expired.

“New provisions in HB1878 would allow unnecessary voter purges, make it more difficult for people with disabilities to vote independently, and prevent local election authorities from receiving grant funds to improve their outreach to the citizenry.

“As we understand it, this bill eliminates the requirement for the Secretary of State to inform the people of the change in requirements to be able to vote. Since the right to vote is the basis of all our rights, then properly informing the citizens could not be more critical.” 

League Cosponsors Jan. 6 Vigils

Signs were printed using grant funds from the LWVUS Education Fund.

On Thursday, Jan. 6, League members joined hundreds of other voting rights advocates in Missouri to mark last January’s attack on democracy.

“The insurrection last Jan. 6 was a clear attack on our democracy. We need the federal election reforms in the Freedom to Vote Act to protect the right of all eligible citizens to vote and have their vote count,” says LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod. “In 2021, 19 states passed legislation making it more difficult to vote. As Missouri legislators return to work in Jefferson City this week, we want them to recognize that most voters and election officials liked the safe voting options they approved in 2020 and are against making it harder for citizens to vote or to put an initiative on the ballot.”

League Calls for Better Partisan Balance in Missouri’s 8 Congressional Districts

“Fair redistricting is a high priority for the League, since the new maps will shape our lives for the next 10 years,” says LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod. “It’s all about fairness. The League wants to see more competitive districts that reflect Missouri’s political landscape and give voters a greater voice in their government at all levels.”

Reapportionment is an important task the General Assembly must complete after each U.S. Census. The Missouri Constitution requires congressional maps to be drawn using voting data averaged from governor, U.S. Senate, and Presidential races for the past three general elections (Mo. Const. art. III, §3). According to this set of data from 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections, Missouri voters are roughly 46.5 percent Democrat and 53.5 percent Republican.

Compactness and good political fairness are achievable for Missouri.” That is the conclusion of a report the Institute for Computational Redistricting (ICOR), a research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, prepared for LWVMO. “Partisan fairness can be substantially improved in congressional plans while maintaining compactness and a majority-minority district.”

The League shared ICOR’s report and sample nonpartisan maps with legislators in December. Both of these maps have an efficiency gap of less than 2.5. The efficiency gap is a tool used by demographers to gauge political gerrymandering, the degree to which district maps are drawn for partisan advantage. Click here for a list of legislators serving on the House and Senate Redistricting Committees.

EG1

EG 1: https://davesredistricting.org/join/eb7fdd4b-aa8b-49b4-bdf0-5af1ef8ae382
EG2: https://davesredistricting.org/join/7ca90c87-a316-4e6e-b83b-d78bc726f458

The League encouraged legislators to use a transparent process and allow ample time for analysis and public comment on proposed maps