New voter ID law kicks in for special election
COLUMBIA - Before polls for the special election open on November 7th, Missourians should be aware of the change in the voting process.
As of June 1, prospective voters are required to present a form of photo identification before placing a ballot.
"We wanted to make sure that people knew that they could be confident, that their vote would count, that they wouldn't be disenfranchised by somebody else's vote canceling their vote out," Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said. "At the same point, we felt that we had to be sure that we could tell people that if they were registered they would be able to vote."
Ashcroft said the bill is just one way legislators are trying to limit voter fraud throughout the state. He said he believes the law will increase ballot access as well as give people a better sense of confidence in the government's stance on cheating in elections.
On Election Day, voters have a variety of ways to prove their identity. The first option is to provide a Missouri issued Driver or Non-Driver license, U.S. Passport, or Military ID. The second option is to provide a secondary form of identification, like a paycheck or bank statement and sign a statement confirming their identity.
If a voter doesn't have a form of identification, and is a registered voter, they can sign a provisional ballot.
"These new state provisional ballots are required at all elections. And those are for people that come in, the name and address they site is in the voter role but they can't prove their identification," Ashcroft said. "This way we can say 'go ahead vote', well set it aside and that gives us time to confirm who you are so that you get to participate."
Even though there is some flexibility in providing identification, some Missourian legislators and activists strongly oppose the bill, calling it a modern day "Jim Crow." They believe the law will prevent some people from becoming registered and able to vote.
“When my ancestors, who were slaves in this country, first won the right to vote, the reaction was to pass Jim Crow laws to keep us from voting — things like literacy tests and poll taxes,” said St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones. “Voter ID is another poll tax.”
Despite opposition, 63 percent of Missourians voted in favor of the bill. On Election Day they'll see how their decision will impact time at the polls.
"You know we're expecting a smooth, probably slow election day on November 7th. So the processes through my office are the same regardless of whether you've shown a photo ID," Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said.
Burks said the enforcement of the new law will be relatively simple, and will only add an additional step to the judges' check-in process.
Judges will use Poll Pads to verify voters' identities. The screen provides the various options of identification, and notifies judges if a voter has already voted at a another polling location.
"This is what government aught to be about," Ashcroft said. "A good election isn't whether I win or lose. It's if the people of the state, the registered voters, they go to their polling place and their voice is heard and their voice is followed and that's what this new law does."
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