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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

MO Voting Laws Hamper Access to Ballot Box

Lily Bohlke / Missouri News Service

A new report finds Missouri lags behind many other states in voting access.

The Campaign Legal Center graded states on whether they have 10 key voting practices, from no-excuse absentee voting to online tracking of mail-in ballots and ballot drop boxes. Missouri received a score of four out of 10.

Denise Lieberman, director of the nonpartisan Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, said Missouri has some of the more restrictive photo ID requirements to vote, does not have any early voting and requires one of six excuses for people to vote by mail.

She added there are strict guidelines for which polling place a person can use, even if there are multiple locations in a single voting jurisdiction.

"You can't go to the polling place that's close to your job, or close to your kids' school," said Lieberman. "Not in Missouri. In more than a dozen other states, you absolutely can. More than 30 states have early voting, or even something as simple as no-excuse absentee voting. "

While legislators didn't pass any voting bills during the 2021 session, the House Elections Committee is expected to call an interim committee to tackle voter ID and vote-by-mail laws.

Lieberman said the clock is ticking for Congress to pass federal legislation to increase access to the ballot. She said it would override many of the efforts to restrict the vote that have come in response to 2020's high voter participation rate.

"Other legislation introduced in Missouri in 2021 would have made it easier to purge voters from the rolls," said Lieberman. "And that's just the wrong direction. And that's precisely why we need this federal legislation. The For the People Act would create a uniform guaranteed level of access."

Along with the more than a dozen voting bills introduced in Missouri this year, across the country state legislatures have pushed more than 400 bills to restrict people's right to vote. Lieberman says many of them disproportionately impact voters of color, young voters, seniors, voters with disabilities and low-wage workers.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.