Missouri Governor Mike Parson reformed state election laws on Wednesday by banning mail-in ballots and requiring all registered voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.
In a push to “strengthen election processes and voter confidence,” Parson signed House Bill 1878 into law, saying although Missouri has conducted “free, fair, and secure elections” in 2020 and prior elections, state officials want to remain that way in the face of “changing technologies and new emerging threats.”
“[The bill] strengthens our election processes and gives Missourians confidence that their voices are being accurately and securely recorded at the ballot box,” Parson said in a statement
Voter ID requirements, a measure Missouri Republicans have pined for nearly two decades only to have the courts strike down their efforts ruling them unconstitutional, finally made their way through the system. The law now requires government-issued photo IDs to cast ballots. However, those without one can cast a provisional vote only if the voter returns later that day with a proper ID for signature verification by election officials.
Missouri’s new law also modified several other rules on how the state conducts its elections, like opening a two-week window for voters to cast absentee ballots without citing an excuse why they can’t vote on Election Day. In addition, it prohibits local election authorities from accepting private donations — except for personal protective equipment, food, and water.
After the state’s upcoming primary next month, election officials must “air-gap” or disconnect all voting machines from the Internet. Following the 2022 Midterms, hand-marked paper ballots will stand as the official ballot beginning in 2023 — unless the voter chooses to use a ballot marking device. The law also banned the use of electronic voting counting machines starting in 2024.
Missouri’s latest election law gives the Secretary of State authority to audit voter rolls at any given point to ensure accuracy.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft backed the measure calling it “one of the strongest election laws in the country,” The Associated Press reported.
“It makes sure that it’s easy to vote, it’s harder to cheat, and the people can have trust in the results,” Ashcroft said.
Democrat lawmakers pushed back on the photo ID requirement, according to The Associated Press, calling it “egregious” and “shameful” believing it could affect minority voters.
“What you’re trying to do is take us back to Jim Crow,” Democratic Rep. LaKeySha Bosley said during debate last month, The Associated Press reported.
Ashcroft clapped back on the Democrat talking point.
“It seems pretty racist to me to say that the color of skin determines whether or not someone knows how to get an ID,” Ashcroft told The Associated Press.
Missouri Representative John Simmons and Senator Sandy Crawford joined Gov. Parson during the ceremony signing calling it a common-sense measure and a safeguard to prevent voter fraud.
Missouri joins 17 other states in the union that has enacted voter identification laws that took effect this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.