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Going Public: Cape Co. Clerk, Kara Clark Summers Discusses New Missouri Voting ID Law and Other Changes For Nov. 8th General Election

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KRCU Public Radio recently spoke with Kara Clark Summers, Cape Girardeau County Clerk and President of the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities, about the changes for voters in the state, as well as the new voter ID law and what it means in this election cycle.

This is a transcript of the interview.

John Moore:

I'm John Moore with KRCU Public Radio and we're 'Going Public' today with Cape Girardeau County Clerk, Kara Clark Summers. We discussed the current changes to the Missouri election law, including the recent changes to voter photo ID. Missouri has introduced some new voting ID requirements in the photo ID law. What are the major changes that we can expect for the November election?

Kara Clark Summers:

So the law that went into effect on August 28—now requires Missouri voters to show a form of photo ID, and there's very specific requirements on what forms are acceptable: Missouri driver's license, and Missouri non-driver's license, a military ID, which includes the veteran's ID card, a passport, or military ID, or any ID that was issued by the United States of the state of Missouri, that shows a photograph of the individual also has their name and an expiration date.

So they would have to present one of those forms of photo identification in order to vote in the November 8th General Election. The bill also says that it should be a non-expired Missouri driver's license or nondriver's license. But they did put a caveat in the law, a provision in the law that said if it expired after the last general election, which was November 3rd, 2020, so if it expired after November 23rd, 2020, we can still accept that on election day.

But the main thing is that if somebody does not have one of these forms, they can cast a provisional ballot on election day and still vote. And their vote would count. If their signature on the envelope of the provisional ballot envelope matched the signature on our voter rolls, then their vote will count.

JPM:

Okay, so that's, that's the biggest thing, I guess at this point, it would be too late to change that. So the key thing for people who don't meet those previously stated requirements, they can still have that provisional ballot?

KCS:

Well, so they would vote a provisional ballot, the ballot goes in a provisional ballot envelope, and they sign that envelope. And if their signature matches the signature when they registered with our office, and that matches the signature on our voter rolls, then we will count that ballot. So they need to know that if they don't have the requirement of photo ID, still come to vote on Election Day, and you can cast the provisional ballot. And if your signature matches the signature on the voter rolls, then we count that ballot.

So, we don't want to deter anyone from voting. We want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to vote if they are a registered voter. What I did want to talk about also is for this election, the law did change to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. So if anybody wants to come into our office prior to the election, if they can't make it to their polling place, or they just want to vote in, in advance of Election Day, vacate that no excuse Absentee Voting begins October 25. And that will lead up to the day prior to the election. And you can do that at either office, our main office in Jackson or our satellite office in Cape Girardeau.

The law also changed for providing law enforcement officials, first responders or healthcare workers [additional provisions to] vote. That is an acceptable reason to vote an absentee ballot, and that begins six weeks prior to each election. So, any of those people that weren't able to make it to their polling place on Election Day. Because of their long hours, those people are allowed now by law to vote an absentee ballot prior, and that begins six weeks prior to elections. And that's happening now in both of our office locations.

JPM:

Okay. Also, I know that in Cape at least in Cape Girardeau County and actually probably several locations across Missouri and different townships, the wards boundaries slightly changed and can you explain a little bit more about that?

KCS:

But with the 2020 census, the ward boundaries in Cape, the City of Cape, and in other jurisdictions changed. But every voter has been notified if they're if their location changed. The City of Cape Girardeau didn't get there until after we already had the November election activated in our system. So we will not make any changes to anybody's voting jurisdiction in the City of Cape until after the November elections. So those voters that were voting where they voted prior to, you know, where they voted the last time, is where they will vote this time. Any changes made to anybody's voting [location]— they got a letter in the mail saying it changed, but we will not make any changes to the voting precinct boundary lines until after the November election for the City of Cape.

JPM:

Okay, so that's that's the biggest thing to remember right now. So boundaries will stay for this election. All right.

KCS:

So as far as the precinct voting lines, Yes. Correct.

JPM:

There's obviously several different ballot measures on the ballot this time. Some of those, I believe, involves the state constitution. Can you explain more?

KCS:

Well, anyone can view a sample ballot on our website at Cape county votes.com, because there are several constitutional amendments on the ballot. And I encourage everybody to read through those and familiarize yourself with those.

There's also a copy of the fair ballot language provided by the Secretary of State's office on the website at Capecountyvotes.com—people should be familiar with that [site]. [It] will kind of tell them what a 'yes' vote does and what a 'no' vote does on each of those constitutional amendments.

The biggest thing with this photo ID law, you know—we want to make sure the Secretary of State's office is assisting people in obtaining an ID free of charge for voting purposes and a non-driver's license— if people want to get that, they can contact the Secretary of State's office, and they will assist in that.

But we want to just make sure that people understand, that if they don't have one of these acceptable forms, they can vote a provisional ballot, and we will not turn anyone away without offering that provisional ballot. So if anybody has any issues or any questions, we want them to contact our office at 573-243-3547.

Because we want to make sure that everybody [who] is able to vote in this November 8th election, is registered to vote. Capecountyvotes.com. And that will take you right to our election website. And you can then see what's on your sample ballot and any other questions about voting.

Transcription provided by Otter.AI

John is a proud 2006 Alum of Southeast Missouri State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication – Radio option, with a minor in Management. He has been a life-long listener of KRCU Public Radio, but began his radio career as a student DJ on Rage 103.7 KDMC-LP in 2003.
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