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Gov. Parson signs new law requiring gov’t-issued photo ID to vote

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Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a new election law that will require registered voters in Missouri to provide photo identification to cast a regular vote. The law will also give voters a two-week window to cast absentee ballots in person at the Howell County Clerk’s office without needing to cite a reason why they can’t vote.

The new law also repeals the use of mail-in ballots in the November general 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 Jan. 1, 2024.

Howell County Clerk Kelly Waggoner said voters will not see the changes until they vote in the Nov. 8 general election.

The law goes into effect Aug. 28, after the state’s primary election, which takes place Aug. 2.

Waggoner said the new law will require each registered voter in Howell County to present a government-issued photo identification to cast a ballot in the November general election. Currently, voters can present different forms of identification when they vote, including a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or voter registration card.

Missouri's new election law states people without government-issued photo identification can cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they return later that day with the required identification or if the election official can verify their signature, based on voter records. 

Proponents of the changes see increasing requirements for identification as a way to prevent in-person voter impersonation and increase public confidence in the election process, the National Conference of State Legislators says.

 

LOCAL IMPACT

Waggoner commented that the change to Missouri’s election law will make it easier for registered voters in Howell County to cast their votes in the November general election.

“It will make it less complicated,” she said. “The voter will have a very clear idea of what identification they are required to present at the polls. Instead of requiring several options, there is one option: government-issued photo identification.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 17 states besides Missouri have voter photo identification laws in effect, while 19 states have photo identification laws that also accept non-photo IDs.

Waggoner said the state’s new election law will also allow registered voters two weeks to cast absentee ballots in person in the county clerk’s office with no excuse.

“This helps voters that don’t feel like going to the polls on Election Day,” Waggoner said. “They may be in or out of town, but it may not be convenient for them, so they can come in here and vote during the two weeks, with no standard excuse, just that they want to absentee vote.”

State law currently requires absentee voters to provide one of the following reasons for voting absentee in Missouri: being out of their registered voting jurisdiction; being sick or disabled or caring for one who is; religious belief or practice; employment or membership of an election authority outside of one’s usual polling place; incarceration, as long as otherwise eligible to vote; or certified participation in the state address confidentiality program due to safety concerns.

 

PAPER BALLOTS ONLY

Another new change under the bill Parson signed Wednesday mandates paper ballots.

Beginning Jan. 1, the official ballot in Missouri will be a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter or by the voter’s designee, unless such voter chooses to use a ballot marking device.

Waggoner said the county clerk’s office has used paper ballots for many years, and voters won’t see a difference at the polls.

The state’s new election law further mandates cybersecurity testing for the local election authorities and the Secretary of State every two years, prohibits private funding to election authorities, and includes “air gap” as a definition — meaning equipment is physically and technically isolated from any internet-enabled network, including tabulating equipment, electronic voting machines and electronic voting systems.

"The reforms in HB 1878 will increase election security and transparency, and will instill Missouri voters with confidence that they are voting in free, fair and valid election," Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said. "Missouri voters are passionate about their right to vote. This bill makes Missouri elections safer and more transparent, which instills confidence and trust.”

The public can view the entire text of Missouri's new election law at house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills221/hlrbillspdf/4557S.05T.pdf.

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