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An attempt to tighten the state’s photo ID law was withdrawn from SB 631; therefore, several non-photo IDs remain acceptable to vote.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.
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.
The state of Missouri has agreed to improve voter registration at Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) license offices to settle a League lawsuit against the Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue (DOR). The lawsuit filed by LWV of Missouri and the A. Philip Randolph Institute in April 2018 accused the state of violating the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by not automatically updating voter information after residents change addresses.
As part of the settlement, DOR will redirect residents to the Secretary of State’s voter registration website when they change their address at a license office. DOR also agreed to improve voter registration services by changing in-person and mailed change-of-address requests, conduct audits, publish data and designate an NVRA coordinator to ensure compliance with the settlement. The agreement provides court supervision for two years.
“Each election, disenfranchisement occurs when Missouri voters appear at the polls and find out that they are not registered at their current address,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox.”While there are other improvements the League would like to see to make it easier to register and vote, these changes at DMV license offices will bring Missouri closer to full compliance and reduce the number of qualified voters being shut out of the political process.”
Click here for an Associated Press story from Nov. 21 about the settlement.
More than 150 guests attended a November 13 gala at the Sheldon to mark the 100th Anniversary of the St. Louis League. Many toured the Green Room where early meetings of the suffragists who founded the League were held.
Betsey Bruce hosted the program to honor League presidents from the past 100 years. LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox gave each honoree an engraved photo frame. She also presented a certificate to Gay Gellhorn to honor her grandmother, Edna Gellhorn, who served as President of the Missouri League from 1919-21 and 1927-29.
At the LWVMO Fall Planning Conference, Cecilia Belser-Patton from Jobs with Justice participated in a panel with Louise Wilkerson and state president Evelyn Maddox. They discussed intentional relationship building and welcoming all voices to the League, including persons of color, youth, men, LGBTQIA and low-income women.
“We can learn to move forward in ways that are inclusive…and engage people in ways that we haven’t before,” Belser-Patton said. She stressed the need to educate Missouri voters on the issues and then get them to vote based on their self-interest and shared values rather than political party.
The board of directors adopted the following DEI policy at the September 25 meeting:
The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy.
There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.
President Evelyn Maddox testified on Aug. 20 that Missouri voters are still confused about what identification they need to present at the polls despite extensive education efforts by League volunteers. Maddox is pictured below with Advancement Project lawyers Denise Lieberman and Sabrina Khan, Gillian Wilcox from the ACLU, Executive Director Jean Dugan, and Metro St. Louis officers Nancy Miller and Nancy Price. The group was in Jefferson City for the trial in the League’s case with the NAACP challenging the Secretary of State’s implementation of the photo ID law.
To recognize the Centennial of the League and Missouri’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented a proclamation signed by Governor Mike Parson in the Capitol Rotunda on July 8. The proclamation concludes: Whereas, the State of Missouri recognizes that the League of Women Voters of Missouri, which arose from the Missouri Woman Suffrage Association, has worked to educate and empower voters since its founding in October 1919, and Whereas, the citizens of Missouri appreciate the struggles of the Suffragists and others who fought for the right to vote by all citizens; Now, therefore, I, Michael L. Parson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do hereby recognize the 100th Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment.
State Board members took a photo by a plaque the League installed in 1931 that is a tribute “to those women in Missouri whose courageous work opened the opportunities of complete citizenship to all women in the state.” For a list of Missouri suffragists and a closer look at the plaque, click here.
About 50 League members and Girl Scouts celebrated the Centennial of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and Missouri’s ratification of the 19th Amendment by marching in a 4th of July parade in Webster Groves.
LWVMO Board for 2019-21: Treasurer Cindy Wunderlich, President Evelyn Maddox, Vice President Marilyn McLeod, Nancy Copenhaver, Sharon Swon, Marge Bramer, Secretary Louise Wilkerson, Carol Schreiber, Joan Gentry, Kathleen Boswell, Melodie Armstrong and Nancy Miller.
The 64th state convention featured several speakers on election reform. On Friday, Alicia Gurrieri from LWVUS presented a workshop to help League members empower voters and defend democracy.
Amber McReynolds was a fabulous keynote speaker. She explained how she worked to get comprehensive election reform in Colorado, including automatic voter registration and address changes, mail-in ballots and central vote centers. “Let’s make the voting experience something everyone can celebrate,” she told LWVMO convention delegates. The former director of elections for Denver, she is now the Executive Director for the National Vote at Home Institute and serves as senior strategic adviser on various election-focused projects across the country. She was introduced by Eric Fey, Director of the St. Louis County Board of Elections.
St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones updated the convention on proposed election reforms “to ensure an effective government of, by and for the people.” She called Amendment 1 “a tremendous victory to clean up Missouri politics.” After commending the League for its work for American democracy, she challenged delegates to block legislation now in the Missouri Senate to override voter wishes and make it easier to gerrymander. She also shared some exciting opportunities to make positive lasting changes for voters, including approval or ranked choice voting.
In honor of the League’s centennial in 2019, the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis hosted a Suffragist Tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery on Thursday. On Friday night, delegates and guests enjoyed What Women Wore: A League of Women Voters Centennial Fashion Show. The entertaining and informative Fashion Show Script was written by Nichole Burgdorf and read by Rebecca Now, with fashions modeled by the volunteer board of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.