OPINION: Missouri’s new Voter ID law will actually stifle the vote

President, League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis

The League of Women Voters’(LWV) mission has two parts – Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy. Both of these are under attack by current Missouri election law.

Missourians are deep into the fall election season and voter advocate groups across the state are grappling with the effects of an election law – HB1878 – that commenced after the August election.

HB1878 tries to tie the hands of those people who work to involve every citizen in elections. This new law limits voter registration efforts by adding hurdles to “solicit” voter registration. If you do not jump these hurdles, you can LOSE.

At the League of Women Voters, we now follow a policy that requires all our volunteers doing voter registration to register as solicitors on the Secretary of State’s (SOS) website. This is to keep our members on the “safe” side of the law. And the hurdles continue; we must all re-register with the SOS after every general election.

HB1878 stifles our League voice when we try to educate voters about absentee ballot applications. Again, the word “solicit” vaguely defines what is not allowed.

So questions about absentee ballot applications largely go unanswered – even though the LWV knows the answers! We do not want our member volunteers to accidentally break election laws in the process of empowering voters.

HB1878’s photo ID requirement is restrictive.

Fundamental to Democracy is that every citizen has free access to the ballot box. The LWV acts to protect the freedom to vote for every qualified Missouri citizen, regardless of their “group.” And this means everyone – old-young, male-female-nonbinary, gay-straight, black-white-brown, able-bodied–disabled, non-working – working, married-unmarried, rich-poor. The list continues…

HB1878 will cause fewer people to vote.

Some people will not even try to vote because they have heard it is more difficult.  Some will try and be unable to secure an acceptable ID. And some would-be voters will show up on election day unaware of the change and be turned away or their provisional ballot will not count because of a technicality, like their signature not matching.

College IDs, utility bills, and voter registration cards are no longer acceptable IDs to vote. Check that your state ID or driver’s license has not expired. If your ID has expired after Nov. 3, 2020, the law reads that you are still able to vote a regular ballot. However, some counties are telling the League that they will not accept any expired IDs.

The League of Women Voters stands to Defend Democracy and we are fighting this bill in the courts. HB1878 is burdensome and confusing. It stifles the voice of voter advocate organizations like the LWV.

Missouri has always required identification to vote but not this restrictive. Do not fall for the sham argument that our state needs HB1878 for “election integrity.”

For Democracy to have integrity, the vote must include everyone. The phony catchphrase “election integrity” simply tries to make allowances that deny access to the ballot.

Democracy works best when everyone is assured access to the vote and gets to vote a regular ballot.

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