One of the first big elections to incorporate Missouri’s new Voter ID Law will take place in the Springfield area of Greene County Tuesday.
Voters will have to either have a government-issued photo ID, or a voter registration card, a Missouri school ID, or a government document. Those who have no identification will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says those casting a provisional ballot can make sure their vote becomes official. “If you show up without any identification whatsoever, you can go ahead and vote a provisional ballot and you can verify your identity by returning later with identification that same day as the election or they can verify it using a signature,” said Ashcroft.
Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller describes the various forms of valid ID voters can use. “We always recommend folks to have their driver’s license as long as it’s current and unexpired that will suffice. It can be a driver’s license or a non-driver’s license by the DMV. If not, your passport or a military ID from the federal government,” says Schoeller.
People presenting other forms of ID previously allowed in Missouri, including voter registration cards, college ID’s and bank statements, are still given a normal ballot if they sign a statement.
The statement says the voter acknowledges they don’t have the government issued photo ID, and informs them that they can get one at no charge.
According to Ashcroft, the new Voter ID Law was put on last November’s ballot as a way to prevent voter ID fraud. “If we’re not vigilant, there are individuals who seek to undermine the will of the people in our democracy so this is a simple common-sense way that it makes it harder to cheat.”
Ashcroft, a Republican, ran for office on a platform to enforce strict voter ID laws. His claim that voter fraud is a problem in elections has been criticized by Democrats, who contend the issue doesn’t exist. They say Missouri’s voter ID law is a ploy to suppress voting of minorities, the elderly and college kids, many of whom tend to vote Democratic.
A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to have Missouri’s new voter ID law thrown out. 33 states have enacted some form of a voter ID law in recent years.
Greene County Clerk Schoeller is also a Republican, who was criticized in 2016 when he sent members with the sheriff’s office to polls.
The Springfield Chapter of the NAACP and the group Missouri Faith Voices called on Schoeller to abandon the action before last November’s election. Schoeller said he deployed the officers due to higher safety concerns.
Former Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander has called Schoeller’s act “the most egregious and transparent act of voter intimidation” after police officers were stationed outside polling places in minority neighborhoods.
Schoeller narrowly lost the 2012 race for Missouri Secretary of State to Kander. After serving one term, Kander ran and narrowly lost the 2016 U.S. Senate contest to incumbent Republican Roy Blunt.
Tuesday, Greene County residents will vote on a county wide half cent of 1% general revenue sales tax, and Springfield citizens decide whether to continue the city’s current property tax at 27 cents per $100 assessed value.
Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV provided content for this story