Missouri Gov. Parson signs election law; changes to voter ID and other provisions

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 8:12 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri has new provisions around election laws after Governor Parson signed House Bill 1878.

HB 1878 - Modifies provisions regarding election law:

Requires all registered voters in Missouri to provide a photo ID to vote and repeals the use of mail-in ballots while allowing certain absentee ballots, strengthening the integrity of each citizen’s vote.

Additionally, HB 1878 makes several other modifications to state statutes:

  • Clarifies when voter rolls can be audited by the Secretary of State;
  • Allows no-excuse absentee voting in person at the local election authority starting two weeks prior to the election;
  • Prohibits the use of ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots;
  • Makes the paper ballot the official ballot and prohibits the use of electronic vote-counting machines after January 1, 2024;
  • Prevents local election authorities from accepting private donations, with limited exceptions;
  • Requires all electronic voting machines to be “air-gapped” or not directly connected to the internet; and
  • Adds several other provisions related to elections.

The new law also bans the use of drop boxes to collect absentee ballots, mandates cybersecurity reviews, and prohibits private donations for elections, with exceptions for personal protective equipment, water, or food for election workers.

It takes away Missouri’s presidential primary, leaving parties to hold caucuses or conventions instead, allowing voters to register by party starting in 2023.

This new law makes paper ballots the official ballot in Missouri, which the Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller says has already been the standard locally.

Because of that, not many voters will notice a difference when they go to the polls.

”What this bill was doing was making sure that everyone was voting on a paper ballot and had a physical ballot that they could look at, versus one that basically stayed with the machine itself. You never got a chance to verify your vote before you cast it,” Schoeller says.

Schoeller says only one county in the state still uses that touch screen voting equipment.

“Their ballot, in essence, was on a piece of paper that was scrolled up in the machine, and then it tabulated up in that machine,” Schoeller says. “That technology is going away. It’s outdated.”

The new law will require all voters to provide a current photo ID to vote.

It does not impact the upcoming August elections, with the bill going into effect on August 28, but will be in effect by the November elections.

Representative David Tyson Smith is concerned this will limit the number of people who go to the polls.

“Elderly people who no longer drive and don’t have valid driver’s licenses or they’ve got an older driver’s license, and they’re going to have a problem voting,” Rep. Smith says.

However, it’s not just older Missourians he’s concerned about.

Rep. Smith is also a member of the black legislative caucus and is raising concerns about how this will negatively impact the community.

“They don’t have the same amount of photo IDs as other people in the community,” Rep. Smith says. “It’s basically designed to suppress the vote.”

Representative Smith says the goal of a photo ID law is to prevent voter impersonation, which he says is not a problem in Missouri.

“We have not had one case, prosecuted case, of that in Missouri, so why are we doing this,” Rep. Smith says.

Schoeller says there are still ways to vote if you don’t have a photo ID.

You can use your voter ID card, utility statement, or bank statement with your address to vote on a provisional ballot.

Then the signature on your ballot is compared to the one on file; if it matches, your ballot counts.

“We know signatures do change, so if you don’t have a photo ID, you might want to update your voter registration card, so we have your signature that is most current,” Schoeller says.

This bill is over 50 pages long with dozens of provisions, changing Missouri’s election law. The entirety of the bill can be found here.

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