SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Less than a month before the mid-term election a Cole County Judge has struck down part of a Missouri law that requires voters to prove who they are with proper identification before they can vote.
And while some appeals of that decision are likely ahead, you should know that the outcome either way won't make a lot of difference to most voters.
In 2016 a constitutional amendment gave the state authority to mandate that voters present a government-issued photo ID prior to voting if they have one.
Heading into the November midterms, there are currently three options of presenting ID's when you turn out to vote.
Option 1 deals with the state's requirement of a government-issued photo ID where you can use a driver's or non-driver's license, passport or military ID.
Options 2 and 3 deal with not having a photo ID.
Option 3 allows you to cast a provisional ballot with no ID. If you come back to the polling place by 7pm and show a current photo ID, your vote counts or if your signature matches the signature in the voter registry, your vote will count.
Option 2 is the one affected by the judge's decision. It allows you to use a non-photo ID like a voter registration card, college ID, utility bill or bank statement. But when you use one of those types, you must first sign a sworn statement that you don't have a photo ID. And it's that statement that the judge struck down, saying it was "contradictory and misleading".
Senior Circuit Judge Richard Callahan went on to say "the affidavit plainly requires the voter to swear they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification this is approved."
"The biggest thing that the decision was saying is that voters would not have to sign that statement," said Greene Co. clerk Shane Schoeller.
But he believes the matter is far from settled.
"Currently the Secretary of State's Office, because we're so close to the election, is asking the court to not only stay the decision but to ultimately appeal the decision," he said. "And so right now we're not certain where we're going to be at the day of the election because there's still some appeals and some questions before the court that need to be decided and so once we have that decision we'll be sure to let the voters know."
Another change is that Springfield now has three central polling places where anyone can go vote. The Greene County courthouse, the Missouri State Welcome Center, and a new location, the Bus Transfer Station.
"We encourage everyone that if you can go to your normal assigned voting location that's certainly the preference," Schoeller said. "However, if you have issues getting to your polling location, for example no handicapped entrance or a transportation issue, the bus transit center that CU has is going to allow voters to go straight there, cast their ballot, get back on the bus and get back home.
Schoeller said there are more than 192,000 voters registered in Greene County for November, high for a midterm election year and evidence of the many issues and races that are garnering a lot of attention.
"We're going to be very similar to the number of voters we had registered for the 2016 presidential election," Schoeller said.
And considering the high number of key issues, "this is a very long ballot, he said. "If you study before you come to the voting location that you normally vote at, it's going to be a lot quicker for you."
Sample ballots are available on-line or from the clerk's office.
Absentee voting is going on right now for election, but the day may be coming soon when anyone can cast an absentee vote without needing an excuse as to why you can't vote on election day.
"I'm certainly one who thinks we need to move to no-excuse absentee voting," Schoeller said. " I think in terms of the modern era that we live in, convenience is something that is very important to people personally. So I'm certainly a proponent of us moving away from excuse absentee voting to no-excuse absentee voting. I'm visiting with other election authorities across the state and we'd like to visit with the legislature in the coming legislative session to see if they'd consider that because if more people vote prior to the day of the election, that means less lines on the day of the election. And that's a win-win for everybody."