As our Missouri General Assembly convenes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are outraged to see some lawmakers pushing to pass voter suppression measures. Many of our ancestors suffered and died to secure the right to vote, so we must take action immediately.
Voter suppression language was amended to the House Committee Substitute (HCS) for Senate Bill (SB) 725 on Monday afternoon. SB 725 goes to Fiscal Review Committee on May 12 and then could come back to the House chamber for another vote. Similar language is in HCS SB 552 which was passed out of Rules-Legislative Oversight on May 11. That bill could be debated on May 12.
The threat to our voting rights is very real. Since both underlying bills have already passed the Senate, if the House approves either bill, they could head to the governor’s desk following one more vote in the Senate to accept the House language.
What is dangerous in these bills?
A strict requirement for an unexpired voter photo ID – We know that more than 200,000 valid Missouri voters do not have an unexpired government-issued photo ID. Research suggests those most likely to lose voting rights through photo ID requirements are
- persons with low incomes
- transgender persons – since they sometimes do not have an ID with a photo and a gender marker that matches how they currently live
- women – since their names sometimes change through marriage, and
- college students
Those in poverty sometimes delay renewing a state-issued photo ID because of other pressing bills. Poverty should NEVER take away your right to vote.
Flawed absentee voting language – With the current public health emergency, voters must have the right to vote securely by mail. In a pandemic, a requirement to have an application to vote absentee notarized cannot safely be practiced. Neither should the ability to vote absentee hinge on the issuance of a “declared emergency” by the Governor. The national landscape around COVID-19 shows us that governors disagree about what public health measures are appropriate, and voters must be able to make a personal choice about what will best protect their health.
Loss of confidentiality – Those who do not present a valid photo ID could cast a provisional ballot but would have to jump through additional hoops or their vote would not be counted. Provisional ballots would be marked which could then lead to loss of confidentiality of your vote.
Our Board of Directors has also voted to oppose all attacks on the CLEAN Amendment, such as Senate Joint Resolution 38 which has also been passed out of the Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee and could appear on the House calendar as early as May 12. CLEAN was passed by more than 62 percent of the vote in Missouri in November 2018.
We ask that you use this link to send a message opposing voter suppression and the attack on CLEAN. Please edit the template and subject line into your own words to make your message most effective.
Jeanette Mott Oxford
Executive Director/Director of Policy & Organizing