Missouri: Lawmakers discuss return to paper ballots | Columbia Missourian

Voters could get the chance to check their electronic ballot for accuracy before turning it in under a proposed bill. HB 543, sponsored by Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, would require electronic voting machines to print out a paper ballot that could be reviewed by the voter. That paper ballot would also be available to those checking ballots during recounts. The bill also works to phase out electronic voting machines that directly record results without producing some sort of physical copy. As the machines die out due to age or malfunction, the bill states that they would not be replaced. The bill would make paper ballots the “official ballot” except for those submitted by electronic machines that have not yet been replaced.

Missouri: Voting registration issues leave voters stranded on Election Day | The Standard

Several Missouri State students and dozens more Greene County voters were kept from the polls on Nov. 6 because of incorrect information on their voter registration cards. A social media post by one MSU student stated that some members of the Missouri State NAACP chapter were unable to vote after turning in their voter registration cards to the organization. The post claimed that the NAACP had not turned in the cards. The student who made the post declined to be interviewed. But, Cheryl Clay, the president of the Springfield branch of the NAACP, said that claim is not true. The issue, Clay said, was not that the cards weren’t turned in  — it’s that they were filled out incorrectly. A common issue was missing apartment numbers in addresses.

Missouri: Missouri Stops More ‘Mentally Incapacitated’ People From Voting Than Anywhere Else | KCUR

Of all the freedoms Anthony Flanagan lost during his eight years under state care, the right to vote was among the toughest. Flanagan, a quadriplegic who was deemed unable to care for himself because of psychiatric issues, lived under a legal guardianship by the state of Missouri from 2008 to 2016. Often seen as protective of people incapacitated by mental illness or developmental disabilities, guardianship can also strip people of many rights the rest of us enjoy, including the right to vote. Flanagan admired Barack Obama during his presidential run in 2008, thinking him intelligent and articulate. Though he doesn’t consider himself a member of either political party, Flanagan was disappointed that the state deprived him of the chance to vote in an historic election. “Like most of the country, I was like ‘Wow, they’re really gonna elect a black president! This is cool,” Flanagan, now 49, said. “I was like, ‘Oh man, I wish I could vote.’”

Missouri: Appeals judges OK lawsuit on voter photo ID funding | Associated Press

Appeals court judges on Tuesday said a lawsuit can move forward that alleges Missouri lawmakers didn’t spend enough money on implementation of a new voter photo identification law and it consequently should not be enforced. The decision by the Western District Court of Appeals panel reversed a circuit court judge’s January ruling to dismiss the case , meaning the legal challenge can continue. The American Civil Liberties Union, Advancement Project, Missouri NAACP and League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that state lawmakers didn’t budget enough money for the state to properly educate voters on the changes, provide free IDs and birth certificates, and train poll workers. As a result, the groups argued that the heart of the law should not be carried out.

Missouri: Judge clarifies voter ID ruling ahead of key Senate contest | PBS

A Missouri judge on Tuesday made clear that local election workers cannot enforce a core requirement in a new voter photo identification law, taking away the teeth of the law in advance of a marquee U.S. Senate election on Nov. 6. At issue is a new law that had directed voters to present a valid photo ID or sign a sworn statement and present some other form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot. Senior Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan earlier this month struck down the requirement that voters without proper photo ID sign a sworn statement. But Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who supports a photo ID law, said the ruling caused “mass confusion” just weeks before the pivotal election between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Missouri: Part of Missouri’s voter ID law still suspended | News Tribune

Missouri voters shouldn’t be asked to sign an affidavit if they attempt to vote without a photo ID in the Nov. 6 general election, after the Missouri Supreme Court on Friday denied Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley’s request to overturn a ruling striking part of the state’s new voter ID law. The state’s lawyers had asked the court to stay the immediate effectiveness of Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan’s order, which said the state can’t require voters who are “otherwise qualified to cast a regular ballot” to sign an affidavit — if they don’t have one of the photo IDs lawmakers included in the new law, which went into effect July 1, 2017. Missouri voters, by a 63 percent margin in November 2016, added an amendment to the Missouri Constitution allowing lawmakers to create requirements for voters to identify themselves when voting at their polling place, including using photo IDs.

Missouri: Republican mailers with false info sent to Missouri voters | The Kansas City Star

The Missouri Republican Party sent mailers to 10,000 voters across the state with false information about when their absentee ballots are due, the party’s executive director acknowledged Friday. Ray Bozarth said the incorrect information was printed on postcards as the result of a miscommunication between the party and its vendor, which he declined to name. Bozarth also did not say how the miscommunication occurred. A photo of the mailer provided to the Star shows a red bar across the top that says “urgent notice” in all capital letters and encourages voters to return their mail-in ballots “today.”

Missouri: St. Louis Democrats urge Attorney General to drop voter photo ID appeal | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area Democrats are using an appeal of a court ruling against Missouri’s voter photo identification law as a rallying cry in the state’s competitive race for U.S. Senate. U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, joined Democratic members of the Missouri General Assembly Monday to demand that Attorney General Josh Hawley drop his defense of the law. A Cole County judge last week declared unconstitutional the sworn statement voters who used non-photo identification like a utility bill had to sign to cast a ballot. “Instead of stepping up to protect the voting rights of these Missourians who are most at risk of being disenfranchised, our AG, Josh Hawley, is appealing Judge [Richard]Callahan’s ruling in order to suppress the vote of minorities, the disabled and the rural poor who are most likely to vote for his opponent,” Clay said.

Missouri: Voter ID ruling has election authorities worried about confusion at polls | Columbia Missourian

As the Nov. 6 general election approaches, a new shake-up regarding voter identification laws has election authorities across Missouri — including in Boone County — on their toes. Cole County Judge Richard Callahan on Tuesday blocked provisions of the voter ID law that require people with a non-photo ID to sign an affidavit before casting a ballot. Callahan issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed against the state by Priorities USA. Although an affidavit requirement could be reasonable, the one used for voters who present an ID without a photo is “contradictory and misleading,” Callahan ruled. “The affidavit plainly requires the voter to swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved,” Callahan wrote.

Missouri: Judge rules part of voter ID law unconstitutional | The Kansas City Star

A Cole County judge on Tuesday upheld most of a Missouri law requiring that voters present an ID at the polls but barred the state from requiring voters without a photo ID to sign a statement the court deemed “misleading.” Priorities USA, a national progressive organization, challenged Missouri’s voter ID law in a lawsuit filed in June. Missouri voters in 2016 gave the state authority by a constitutional amendment to impose a voter ID requirement. Under the state’s requirement, voters are to present a government-issued photo ID prior to voting if they have one. Voters who don’t have a photo ID but had another form of ID without a photo were supposed to sign a statement confirming their identity under penalty of perjury.

Missouri: Judge expects to rule on voter photo ID case next week | News Tribune

Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan said Monday he expects to have a ruling next week in the lawsuit challenging Missouri’s new law requiring a photo identification as the easiest way to cast a vote at the polls. He gave lawyers for both sides until the end of Wednesday to submit any final briefs in the case. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by national group Priorities USA, two Missouri residents and the West (St. Louis) County Community Action Network. They argue that a 2016 voter-approved amendment and the enacting legislation adding the photo ID language to Missouri Constitution don’t “eliminate the express, constitutional right to vote” that already is defined in two different places in the Constitution — and they want Callahan to block enforcement of the law during the Nov. 6 general election. “Plaintiffs started this case talking about the right to vote, and the unique place it holds in our democracy,” lawyer Uzoma Nkwonta, of Washington, D.C., told Callahan at the beginning of Monday’s final arguments in the trial that began last week.

Missouri: Testimony ends in voter ID lawsuit | New Tribune

Closing arguments will be Monday in the lawsuit challenging Missouri’s current voter ID law, after the state presented its final witness Wednesday. Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan is being asked to rule on the plaintiffs’ claim that Missouri’s new voter ID law conflicts with existing constitutional language that says people who are properly registered to vote “are entitled” to vote at all elections. The new law went into effect July 1, 2017, after voters in November 2016 added language to the state Constitution saying lawmakers could pass a law specifying the kinds of identification a voter would need to show at the polls before casting a vote.

Missouri: Lawsuit against Missouri’s voter ID law enters second day in court | Missourinet

A second day of arguments in a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s photo voter ID law took place Tuesday at the Cole County Court House in Jefferson City. The parties bringing the litigation are Priorities USA, a national progressive organization that promotes voting rights, and 71-one-year-old Mildred Gutierrez, a Lee’s Summit resident. Gutierrez was allowed to vote in the November 2017 election only after signing a sworn statement under penalty of perjury because she did not have a valid photo ID. University of Wisconsin Political Scientist Kenneth Mayer offered expert testimony for Priorities USA. He called the sworn statement, also known as an affidavit, that Gutierrez had to sign in order to cast a ballot completely incomprehensible.

Missouri: Federal judge orders protection for Missouri voters at risk of being disenfranchised in 2018 Midterms | St. Louis American

A federal judge in the Western District of Missouri issued an order on Friday requiring the State of Missouri to take immediate steps to prevent Missourians from being denied their right to vote in this November’s election as a result of the state’s failure to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The judge ordered that the online and mail change-of-address forms used by the state motor vehicle agency, the Department of Revenue (DOR), be updated to provide voter registration information, and that the state send every voter who has used these forms since August 1, 2017 a mailing that includes a voter registration form and information about the appropriate polling location. These mailings must continue to be sent to every voter who uses the mail and online change-of-address forms until the court-ordered changes to those forms are completed.

Missouri: Lawsuit from liberal group challenging voter ID law being heard in Jefferson City | Missourinet

Arguments in a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s voter ID law are being made at the Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City.  Hearings before Judge Richard Callahan began Monday morning. The complaint was brought on behalf of 71-one-year-old Mildred Gutierrez, a Lee’s Summit resident.  Gutierrez was required to sign a sworn statement under penalty of perjury because she did not have a valid photo ID in order to vote in the November 2017 election. Priorities USA, a national progressive organization that promotes voting rights, filed the lawsuit, claiming the law is unconstitutional and creates an undue burden for voters lacking the required identification.  The suit contends the sworn statement contains “confusing and threatening provisions that discourage qualified voters from attempting to exercise their right to vote without photo ID.”

Missouri: Judge Orders Missouri Officials To Comply With Motor Voter Law | KCUR

A federal judge ordered Missouri officials to provide voter registration information to residents seeking to update their addresses at motor vehicle offices by mail or online. U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes found that their failure to do so violates the National Voter Registration Act, more commonly known as the federal motor voter law. Wimes ordered the action to be taken ahead of this November’s election. His order came in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The suit named Missouri Secretary of State John R. “Jay” Ashcroft and Joel Walters, director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. Ashcroft is the state’s chief election official responsible for enforcing the motor voter law. The Department of Revenue oversees the Driver License Bureau.

Missouri: Voter Crosscheck may wrongly purge Missouri voters from voting rolls | St. Louis American

U.S. citizens across the country soon will vote on all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, for 35 U.S. senators and three dozen governorships. The House of Representatives and possibly the Senate are up for grabs. Given the high stakes, voters would do well to check at least a month ahead of time with their local board of elections to see if they’re still registered to vote. This is especially true for people of color. The reason is that millions could find their right to vote challenged or taken away under suspicion that they’re trying to vote more than once, largely due to 26 states using the Interstate Voter Crosscheck system, which compares lists of voters in different states and challenges the registration of those whose names come up more than once.

Missouri: Lawsuit seeks to knock gerrymandering issue off November ballot | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A Kansas City attorney who helped draw the boundaries of Missouri’s current legislative districts is trying to knock a question off the November ballot designed to end partisan gerrymandering. In a lawsuit filed on behalf of Paul Ritter, a Miller County resident, attorney Eddie Greim said the proposed referendum violates a provision in the Missouri Constitution that prevents multiple subjects from being combined into one ballot proposal. “One purpose of the prohibition on multiple subjects in a single ballot proposal is to prevent `logrolling,’ a practice familiar to legislative bodies whereby unrelated subjects that individually might not muster enough support to pass are combined to generate the necessary support,” the lawsuit says.

Missouri: Groups clash over proposed redistricting plan | Associated Press

A proposed ballot initiative aims to replace Missouri’s system for drawing state legislative districts with a model designed to have the number of seats won by each party more closely reflect its statewide vote. If election officials validate enough signatures collected by Clean Missouri, the group sponsoring the proposal, voters will have the final say Nov. 6. The stakes are high: Another round of redistricting begins after the 2020 census. More than $2 million has flowed into Clean Missouri’s coffers, including at least a quarter-of-a-million dollars that originated from the lobbying arm of billionaire George Soros’ philanthropic network. Soros’ financial support of liberal and progressive causes around the country has made him a frequent target of conservatives. That, and support from groups representing labor, teachers, abortion-rights and other left-leaning causes has led some Republicans to cast Clean Missouri as a partisan effort to help Democrats gain ground against GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate.

Missouri: State sued over voter ID law | The Kansas City Star

A national progressive organization filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Missouri’s voter ID law on behalf of a 70-year-old Jackson County woman. The suit was filed in Cole County by Priorities USA, a Democratic-aligned group that advocates for voting rights and works to identify “opportunities for progressives to stand up to the Republican agenda,” according to its website. Missouri voters in 2016 approved the voter ID requirement as an amendment to the state’s Constitution by a 26-point margin. But attorneys for Priorities USA argue that it creates undue burdens for voters who lack the required photo identification.

Missouri: Proposed constitutional amendment would exclude non-citizens from redistricting | Columbia Missourian

A Senate committee passed a resolution Thursday that would exclude non-citizens from the state’s population count when it comes to redistricting. House Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, would make it so only U.S. citizens are counted in the population used in reapportionment. While Plocher received criticism from witnesses who said the proposal treats non-citizens as unequal, he said this measure would actually encourage people to become U.S. citizens faster.

Missouri: Will Missouri GOPers Be First To Pounce On Trump’s Census Citizenship Gambit? | TPM

State-level Republicans are pouncing on the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census as a way to boost their electoral advantage in the next round of redistricting. Missouri Republicans last week advanced a measure that would put on November’s ballot a constitutional amendment to require state legislative districts to be drawn using the number of citizens, rather than total population. Two Republicans defected from the otherwise 90-34 party line House vote. Asked during a Friday floor debate over how Missouri would implement the requirement, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dean Plocher (R), pointed specifically to the fact that the citizenship question will be on the next Census.

Missouri: State Accused of Violating Federal Voter-Registration Laws | Courthouse News

The League of Women Voters of Missouri sued the state Tuesday, claiming it did not follow federal voting-rights law requiring it to update the voter database with information from motor-vehicle records, which the group says impacts half a million residents every year. The National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, requires states to offer residents the opportunity to register to vote whenever someone applies for a new or renewed driver’s license or state ID. It also requires the state to update the individual’s voter registration record whenever a voter updates their address information with the state motor vehicle agency. But the League of Women Voters of Missouri, joined by the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City branches of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, claims the state has failed to comply with the federal law.

Missouri: State sued for alleged violation of voter laws | Associated Press

Advocacy groups on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Missouri for not following federal voter laws. The lawsuit accuses the state of not automatically updating voter registration after address changes and not providing required registration information to some voters. The lawsuit lays blame on the Department of Revenue for its role in registration tied to driver’s license services, as well as the secretary of state for not ensuring voter laws are followed.

Missouri: Local lawmakers looking to ban electronic voting | The Missourian

The Missouri Senate is considering a bill that will forbid the use of electronic voting machines and require the exclusive use of traditional paper ballots. The bill has already passed the House with a 108-31 vote. State Rep. Paul Curtman presented the bill to Missouri Senate last week. As stated in House Bill No. 2208, no electronic voting systems will be approved unless meeting specific guidelines and “The official ballot shall be a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter or, in the case of disabled voters who need assistance, by a paper-ballot marking device designed to assist the disabled.”

Missouri: Senate Considers Banning Touchscreen Voting | Associated Press

The Missouri Senate is considering whether to permanently unplug the state’s touchscreen machines amid concerns that electronic voting machines might be susceptible to hackers. The proposal, which already passed the House in a 108-31 vote, would require voters to use paper ballots exclusively. Machines could still be used to count votes and to assist disabled voters in marking their ballots. But systems that only recorded votes electronically would be phased out. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Curtman of Washington, said the proposal would help ensure the “highest confidence in the integrity of our election system.” If enacted, the proposal would not be a sea change for the state. Every county in Missouri already uses at least some paper ballots. About two dozen counties also use electronic voting machines that do not require a paper ballot, but those machines still create a paper trail for auditing vote totals.

Missouri: Senate bill would phase out most electronic voting machines | MissouriNet

Missouri could largely reduce the number of electronic voting machines it uses at election polls and instead rely heavily on the traditional paper ballots method. A Senate committee could vote this week on the proposal sponsored by State Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring. He says his measure would create a double layer of protection by having a physical record of each vote. “This would slowly phase them (machines) out upon life cycle replacement or mechanical failure,” he says. “So we’re not going to require anybody who has electronic devices to arbitrarily replace something that still has a useful lifespan.” Eigel says his legislation would still allow polling locations to be equipped with devices that could serve disabled voters. Phillip Michaels of eastern Missouri’s University City has built computer systems for large and small companies. He says St. Louis County has about 1,500 electronic machines and Eigel’s bill would have real savings.

Missouri: To limit initiative petitions in Missouri, some want to charge fees | The Kansas City Star

Ten years ago, 15 initiative petitions were filed with the secretary of state’s office in the hopes of making it on the statewide ballot. This year, that number has skyrocketed to 330 and counting. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a first-term Republican and the state’s top election official, says the initiative petition process is getting out of hand. The time and resources spent on ballot summaries, signature verification, fiscal analysis and publication in the media go up every year along with the number of petitions. So he’s asking lawmakers to overhaul a process he says is being dominated by special interests, most notably by charging fees for filing initiative petitions and verifying signatures once they are collected. “Right now, we have individuals who are spending millions of dollars because they can’t get the laws that they want and they want to bypass the legislature,” Ashcroft said. “I think that’s inappropriate. We shouldn’t be subsidizing that with taxpayer dollars.”

Missouri: ACLU to appeal judge’s dismissal of Missouri voter ID lawsuit | Missourinet

Cole County Judge Jon Beetum has granted a motion by Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to dismiss a lawsuit about requiring Missourians to show their ID to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters claiming the state hasn’t adequately provided education, poll worker training or funding for ID’s the law calls for. ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert tells Missourinet the fight isn’t over. “Try as it may, the state cannot undermine voting rights by forcing onerous changes to election law and then compounding those burdens by failing to provide funding for proper implementation. We will appeal,” says Rothert.