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St. Charles voting - shredder joke

"Did you file it into our shredder," jokes poll worker Bonnie English (right) as she teases voter Betty Blankenship (left) after Blankenship dropped her ballot into the box at the VFW Post 2866 on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in St. Charles. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri primary voters are set to choose their parties’ preferred nominees Tuesday — and Missouri’s voter identification requirements will be in effect.

But properly registered voters with no government-issued photo ID will be still able to cast ballots, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said in an interview, so long as they sign an affidavit attesting to their identities first.

“The most important thing that we want people to know — and you’ve heard me say it several times — is that if you’re registered you can vote,” said Ashcroft, a Republican.

Among the high-profile races on Tuesday:

St. Louis County executive: Incumbent County Executive Steve Stenger faces businessman Mark Mantovani for the Democratic nomination. The winner will face the winner of the Republican primary: either Paul Berry III or Daniel Sampson.

• St. Louis County prosecutor: Democrats Robert McCulloch and Wesley Bell are angling for a four-year term in the prosecutor’s office. Incumbent McCulloch faces his first challenge since unrest in Ferguson four years ago. No Republican is running.

• Proposition A: All voters will weigh in on the state’s new “right to work” law. A “yes” vote signifies support of the law; a “no” vote denotes opposition. Right-to-work laws ban union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

• Missouri auditor: Four Republicans — Paul Curtman of Washington, Saundra McDowell of Jefferson City, Kevin Roach of Ballwin and David Wasinger of Hunteigh — are competing for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway in November.

• Legislative seats: Party nominations for area congressional seats and Missouri legislative seats are also up for grabs. U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay faces a challenge from Cori Bush in the heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District. Four Democrats are competing for the chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, in the 2nd Congressional District.

• U.S. Senate: Republican voters will choose who will run for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat this fall. Eleven Republicans are running, though state and national Republicans have lined up behind Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley as their preferred candidate. McCaskill, a Democrat, faces a low-profile primary fight.

Ashcroft’s message involves the GOP-led Legislature’s passage in 2016 of a voter photo ID measure Democrats worried it would scare off older adults, students and the poor because, they argued, members of those groups were less likely to have a valid ID.

But unlike in other states with strict voter ID laws, Missouri Democrats brokered a compromise with Republicans in 2016, allowing voters without an ID the ability to cast ballots.

Ashcroft said most voters will have no problem showing their driver’s license, non-driver’s license, military ID or passport to poll workers. But for those who possess none of the above, “you may still use one of the IDs you could turn over before this law went into effect,” Ashcroft said.

“The difference is you will be required to sign a statement,” he added.

The statement is an affidavit, and the voter must swear they are who they say they are and that they don’t have a photo ID. The affidavit also says that voter ID requirements are the law in Missouri, and that the state will provide an ID free of charge to the voter.

According to the law, the state also will pay to retrieve the underlying documents one needs to obtain an ID.

“It’s a regular ballot,” Ashcroft said describing how a vote is cast after someone signs an affidavit. “It’s not a provisional ballot.”

If a voter has an ID but did not bring it to the polls, the voter can cast a provisional ballot. The voter can bring the ID back to the original polling place during voting hours to have that ballot counted.

Even if the voter doesn’t return to the polling place, the election authority will compare the signature “on the ballot envelope with the signatures that are on file for every registered voter,” Ashcroft said.

“If the signatures match, then they are required by law to run those ballots through the machine and have them be counted,” he said.

Jack Suntrup covers state government and politics for the Post-Dispatch.

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