The House Elections Committee is considering a plan that would let some Missourians vote without ever again going to a polling place.

Representative Fred Kratky of St. Louis says many older people can’t stand in line as long as they did when they were younger. Some feel pressured by other voters because it takes them longer than it used to take to work their way through a long ballot crowded with candidates and ballot issues.

He would let any registered voter who is 70 or older vote by absentee ballot in every election, even if they’re still in town, or within the county. He says he has seen elderly people intimidated at the polling place by crowds or discouraged from going out to vote because of weather.

Representative Margaret Donnelly of St. Louis notes the federal  "Help America Vote" Act of 2002 actually has hurt the ability of some Americans to cast ballots. She says the law has required additional equipment that has led to a consolidation of polling places. She says that means many people have to travel farther to vote.

St. Louis resident Theresa Rohlfing, whose father is 76 and uses a walker, recalls she and her brother carried him to the polling place last year. She says they had to stand in line for more than two hours before he could vote. Rohlfing says a law change allowing people like him to vote absentee would make life much easier for him and for his family.

The committee has not indicated if it will act on Kratky’s bill.

(The bill is HB 922)

Download Bob Priddy’s story (2:04 mp3)