JEFFERSON CITY — Amid a national push by Republicans, the Missouri House approved a series of changes in state election law on Thursday, drawing strong criticism from Democrats.
The legislation imposes photo ID requirements for voting, which voting rights advocates say could pose an undue hardship, especially on the poor, racial minorities, the elderly and voters with disabilities.
The measure also prohibits counting absentee ballots until all Election Day ballots are counted, potentially delaying results.
And it bars election law changes within six months of a presidential election, which would have prevented the kinds of changes that were made to voting procedures last year when the pandemic hit.
Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, said the proposal was “despicable.”
“History is going to record that the Missouri Legislature has voted to disenfranchise people,” Adams said. “We’re trying to fix a problem that does not exist.”
The measure was sent to the Senate on a 109-48 vote. Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, cast the lone “no” vote among Republicans.
Republicans brushed aside criticism of their effort, saying the improvements are needed.
Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, who sponsored the legislation, said the changes will improve the voting process.
“Our elections are good, but we could do better,” Shaul said.
Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, also said the legislation would improve election security in Missouri, even though Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said the 2020 election went smoothly.
“It’s an important fix,” Simmons said.
The action mirrors a national fight by the GOP over who can vote and how people vote. It comes after debunked claims of voter fraud by former President Donald Trump marked his departure from the White House.
In addition to the changes approved by the House, the Senate is considering legislation that would change how the referendum process works.
That legislation came after Missouri voters last year approved a long-sought expansion of the Medicaid program over the objection of Republicans who control state government.
The proposed law would enact a $500 filing fee for groups to file a proposed petition in a bid to cut down on the scores of proposals that the secretary of state must process. It also would standardize the paperwork used to collect signatures and expand the number of words allowed on the official summary statement of the petition.
The legislation is House Bill 738.(tncms-asset)75db3924-8ccd-11eb-8c5e-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)858fa29c-8cd7-11eb-930f-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)c097d9b2-8d73-11eb-b466-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)06aec11c-8d8e-11eb-946d-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Kurt Erickson • 573-556-6181 @KurtEricksonPD on Twitter firstname.lastname@example.org