Absentee ballot legislation that expands voting by mail through the rest of 2020 is on its way to Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s desk, after receiving final approval from the House in Jefferson City on Friday evening.
The final House vote was 121-24, and came with about 30 minutes to spare before the mandatory 6 p.m. adjournment.
State Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, who chairs the Missouri House Elections and Elected Officials Committee, is the bill sponsor.
There are two but separate options under the Shaul bill.
The first expands absentee voting to those 65 and older, or who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Elderly people are considered at greater risk. Notarization is not required for those 65 and older or who are vulnerable.
The second option expands voting by mail for everyone, but requires notarization.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican who campaigned on a platform of photo ID in 2016, tweeted his disappointment on Friday. He’s disappointed that the photo ID requirement was stripped out of the final bill.
But Secretary Ashcroft emphasized that his office will implement and follow the law.
The bill given final approval this evening also contains an emergency clause, which passed with bipartisan support. If Governor Parson signs it, it will be in effect for the August primary election.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, praises the bill, saying it is the result of compromise. Haahr tells Capitol reporters that the bill passed with bipartisan support, adding that it also faced criticism from lawmakers in both parties.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, agrees it’s a compromise. She says the bill on the governor’s desk will allow many Missourians who are concerned about the health risks from crowded polling places to cast an absentee ballot or to vote by mail.
And the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants lawmakers to go further in the future. In a statement to Missourinet, the ACLU notes the measures approved by lawmakers will expire at the end of 2020.
“We are glad to see the Missouri Legislature act to expand the right to vote, we hope they will continue to do so in sessions to come,” the ACLU says, in the statement.
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