Missouri’s top election official said Tuesday he’ll need far more money than Gov. Eric Greitens offered in his budget plan last week to effectively implement the state’s new photo ID law before August elections. The law, pushed by Republican legislators and approved by voters last year, requires Missourians to show a photo ID before voting or sign a legal document swearing they are who they say they are. In response to heavy Democratic criticism that it would prevent the elderly, disabled and poor from voting, Republicans also required the state to pay for IDs for those who can’t afford them. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is tasked with letting voters know about those changes, estimated it would take between $1.1 million and $1.5 million to do so in the next fiscal year.
Articles about voting issues in Missouri.
A majority of Missouri residents said they wanted voters to have to show a photo ID at the polls, and lawmakers obliged. Now, state officials must figure out how to pay for the law, which goes into effect June 1. Gov. Eric Greitens has said the budget to implement the law should be $300,000. Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said Tuesday that it’ll cost more like $1.5 million. Both of those are far less than the previous administration’s $4.26 million estimate, which Ashcroft said “included some things that aren’t required under the law, like sending multiple letters to every registered voter in the state of Missouri.” Ashcroft didn’t address the disparity between his and Greitens’ proposed funding.
Missouri: Republicans vow to fund photo ID implementation in tough budget year | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missouri Republicans are committed to funding the rollout of a voter-approved photo ID law taking effect this year, even as declining tax revenue and growing Medicaid costs have led to a budget shortfall of nearly $500 million. The law requires Missourians to show photo identification before voting, or sign a binding legal document that says they are who they say they are. But it also requires the state to foot the bill to provide photo identification to anyone who doesn’t have one and wants one, absorbing the costs of any documents needed along the way, including birth certificates, divorce decrees, marriage licenses, social security cards or naturalization papers to prove citizenship. Without sufficient funding for those costs, the personal identification requirements “shall not be enforced,” the law says.
Secretary of State Jason Kander admonished the Republican dominated General Assembly Wednesday over legislation passed last year requiring voters to provide a photo ID before they can cast a ballot. House Republicans responded by ditching a planned resolution that would have thanked Kander for his years of service. Kander, a Kansas City Democrat, has long opposed voter ID legislation, arguing that it serves no purpose and yet could disenfranchise certain voters. After more than a decade of trying, GOP lawmakers successfully approved voter ID legislation last year, and a voter ID constitutional amendment was approved by voters in November. In a speech to the Missouri House Wednesday, Kander said he’s heard that lawmakers are considering stiffening the voter ID law. He warned against taking such actions.
Missouri: Incoming Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft working on voter photo ID | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Although he has not formally taken office, Missouri’s next secretary of state is working to implement a new state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Republican Jay Ashcroft told the Post-Dispatch Friday that he was in talks with the Legislature to ensure there is enough funding for the voter photo ID law. And, he is crafting guidelines for how it will work if someone shows up at the polls without an ID card. “It’s a big thing to take care of,” said Ashcroft, who will replace Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat. On Nov. 8, 63 percent of Missouri voters favored a change in the state constitution to require voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot. For those without a valid form of photo identification, the state will be required to provide an ID for free.
Missouri could soon join at least 20 other states where it is legal to take a selfie in the voting booth. Two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would alter Missouri voting rules, paving the way for people to publicly post pictures of themselves and their ballots without fear of prosecution. “Everybody takes selfies of everything,” said Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City. “Why should someone not be able to exercise their First Amendment rights?” Davis has introduced House Bill 315, which eliminates 27 words in the election code that could be used to prosecute people taking selfies after they vote. Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, has introduced an identical version of the measure in House Bill 249. The proposals come after an election cycle in which questions were raised about the legality of taking ballot selfies across the nation.
Missouri: St. Louis prosecutor uncovers ‘important evidence’ in voter fraud probe, turns case over to feds | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The city’s top prosecutor said her office “uncovered important evidence” in a voter fraud investigation dealing with an August primary statehouse race that has since been reversed by voters. The case — which centered on the validity of absentee ballots — has now been turned over to the U.S. attorney’s office. In an email with the subject line “Fraud,” a spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce said Tuesday that based on prosecutors’ findings, “the U.S. attorney’s office has agreed to expand the investigation at Joyce’s request.” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan confirmed his office had been monitoring the investigation since it began in late August. “But in recent weeks, they asked us if we would assume responsibility for the main role, and we agreed,” Callahan said. Callahan declined to offer any specifics about when the investigation might conclude.
Missouri: Judge orders new system for voting for Ferguson-Florissant school board members | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A U.S. District Court judge is calling for a new system of voting in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, one intended to bolster the ability of African-Americans to elect school board members of their choice. Judge Rodney Sippel — who struck down the school district’s voting methods in August — calls for a system involving so-called cumulative voting. Under such an approach, voters cast as many votes as there are candidates, distributing those votes among candidates as they choose. Unlike the current system, a voter could use all votes on a single candidate. In the ruling, the judge argues the system allows voters to “concentrate their full voting power behind their preferred candidate without requiring voters to give up any of the votes they are entitled to cast.” The new system is to go into effect in time for the board’s April election. The ruling requires that voters first be educated on the new system.
Missouri: Court challenges likely for photo ID, campaign contribution amendments | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Perhaps fitting on a night defined by Donald Trump’s largely self-funded presidential win, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a change to the state constitution that will reinstate campaign contribution limits. In Missouri – known for having some of the most lax campaign finance laws in the country – donors can spend millions to elect their chosen candidates, which some argue leads to those officials being beholden to their financial backers over their constituencies. But that’s about to change. Supporters of the amendment hailed their win Tuesday, saying it will help keep elections from being influenced only by the wealthy. And in Missouri elections without limits, candidates do raise significantly more money, but from fewer donors – indicating their contributors have deep pockets – and raise more money out of state. But those against the cap argue that it prohibits free speech through political expression, that donors should be able to spend what they like on candidates so long as they disclose their contributions to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Missouri: Voters support campaign contribution limits and voter ID requirements | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missourians on Tuesday appear to have overwhelmingly voted to reinstate campaign donation limits and to require photo identification for future elections but snuffed out two proposed cigarette tax increases. … The campaign donation proposal, if it withstands an expected court challenge, will cap donations at $2,600 per election for individual candidates for state and local offices and $25,000 for political parties. The measure, Constitutional Amendment 2, also makes it illegal in most cases to shuffle money between committees. “It just resonated with the people,” said Todd Jones of the Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative, speaking of the wide margin late in the evening. “They finally want to take back control of their government. They haven’t had that opportunity when people are writing million-dollar checks” to campaigns. Opponents contended that the current system ensures transparency and that the limits would unfairly restrict political expression.