Federal lawsuit filed against Missouri Secretary of State over remote voting process

Published: Sep. 19, 2020 at 12:14 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - A federal lawsuit takes aim at Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and other local election authorities, calling to make the mail-in voting process easier in Missouri.

Multiple organizations filed the lawsuit Thursday, including the Organization for Black Struggle, Missouri Faith Voices, the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis Section.

The lawsuit asks a judge to make the state’s remote voting process easier and claims that “Missouri has unlawfully burdened its remote voting processes in ways that will disenfranchise thousands of Missouri voters in the November 3, 2020, election."

According to the lawsuit, voters who vote remotely face a “cumbersome and time-consuming process.” The lawsuit cites United States Postal Service warnings over requesting and mailing ballots, while criticizing the state for no allowing mail-in voters to drop off their ballots in-person like people who vote absentee.

The new mail-in voting option, signed by Gov. Mike Parson in response to the pandemic, requires residents to request mail-in ballots by October 21 and mail completed ballots to local election authorities ahead of specified deadlines.

For these ballots to count, they must be returned by mail in a provided envelope with a statement on the envelope signed and witnessed by a notary. State law does not authorize free notarization for mail-in ballots.

The lawsuit also claims the state also “fails to provide basic procedural safeguards to prevent rejection of mail and absentee ballots,” according to a news release.

The lawsuit also targets local election authorities, listing the Greene County Clerk’s Office and other parties responsible for receiving and processing absentee and mail-in ballots.

Per KMBC reports, the Missouri Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning says the office will not provide comment on the litigation, but noted Missouri had held three elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

CLICK HERE to read the lawsuit.

CLICK HERE for more information on voting in the general election in Missouri and Arkansas.

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