A House Republican has filed the early voting proposals recommended by a commission created by the Democrat Secretary of State.
The bill is proposed by Representative Myron Neth (R-Liberty), who is the vice-chairman of the House Elections Committee. It would allow no-excuse absentee balloting, early voting at a central polling place, satellite voting in Presidential elections and would make early voting lists confidential. Those are the reforms identified earlier this year by the Secretary of State’s bipartisan Early Voting Commission.
Neth says to him these ideas are about making voting more accessible.
“The whole early voting thing … I think that just needs to be kept in our minds, of something that we could change to make it better.”
Neth says he wanted to at least have a discussion, but he doesn’t expect there is much chance his proposal will advance this session.
“The priority of our caucus is photo I.D. Now, if something could help that along, and early voting might be that, we might pull it in the mix. If that’s not the case, the chances of it getting much traction in the caucus is probably slim at this point.”
The House has already passed a voter photo identification bill and proposed constitutional amendment to the Senate.
Opponents of early voting say it creates more opportunities for voter fraud. Neth says the provisions in his bill, in some ways, actually strengthen the security of the voting system.
“It’s going to be the same kind of process as if you were going to go at a polling place, with sattelite locations or whatever.” He adds, “To me, you might I think you might actually have less absentee voting, which I think sometimes with mail-in ballots, absentee, that kind of thing, sometimes I think you have more opportunity for fraud … whereas this case where you open it up to where there’s more time for people to vote, and if they have to come and if we can get photo I.D. done, then they’ve got to show that photo I.D. when they vote.”
Some opponents also argue that early voting tends to favor one party over another, but Neth says he hasn’t seen that in his experience.
“Maybe there’s some anacdotal evidence or other evidence out there to show that. For me, personally and for how I’ve seen people and how people have absentee voted before, I don’t think it skews one way or the other.”
Secretary of State Jason Kander says having a Republican support his measure demonstates that there is bipartisan support for it.
“I’ve not talked to any legislators who say that they are against early voting. It’s an issue that has passed the legislature before and we felt like we needed to give it a fresh look and a fresh push forwrard.”
One lawmaker who does say he generally opposes early voting is House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka).
“We have an election day in this country for a reason and I don’t want to dilute the importance of election day with some kind of aggresive early voting procedure … people are going to have to prove to me why they need early voting. We have a very, I think, easily accessible absentee voting system that I have never found to be a problem if I have a problem voting on voting day.”
As for whether Republican support for early voting could sway Kander on the issue of voter photo I.D., Kander says he won’t support the proposal passed this year by the House. He says it disenfranchises many Missourians, particularly among the elderly and minorities. He thinks that proposal, if it clears the legislature and the governor, will be thrown out by the courts.