Missouri governor signs election integrity bill

by Trinity Cardinal

Curt Flewelling – FISM

 

 

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed House Bill (HB) 1878 into law, making several modifications to the state’s election law:

  • Makes the paper ballot the official ballot and prohibits the use of electronic vote-counting machines after January 1, 2024.
  • Requires all electronic voting machines to be “air-gapped” or not directly connected to the internet. 
  • Requires all registered voters to provide a photo ID to vote.
  • Repeals the use of mail-in ballots.
  • Clarifies when voter rolls can be audited.
  • Prohibits the use of ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots.

The law is an attempt to strengthen election processes and voter confidence.  At the bill signing ceremony, Governor Parson declared, “In 2020 and years prior, Missouri has conducted free, fair, and secure elections, but with changing technologies and new emerging threats, we want to ensure they remain that way.”  This latest legal endeavor would be the third such undertaking in six years.

Previous attempts to restore trust in the state’s voting system by the Republican-dominated Missouri legislature have been found unconstitutional by the courts.  Not everyone agrees with Governor Parsons’ assertion that the law will fortify the state’s election system.  House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat, called the law, “Republicans’ latest attempt to disenfranchise certain Missourians”.  She believes this latest law will be declared unconstitutional.  

Similar laments came in the wake of Georgia’s Election Integrity Act as it was predicted to lead to widespread voter suppression by Democrats.  In actuality, the opposite happened as voters, (particularly people of color) cast their ballots in record numbers in Georgia’s May primaries amidst the new safeguards Georgia lawmakers put in place. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensbperger said, “Georgia’s Election Integrity Act struck a good balance between the guardrails of access and security.” 

Whether the new law will pass constitutional muster is up for debate.  Many states have attempted to implement similar legislation in the wake of a tsunami of election integrity issues after the 2020 presidential election.  Blue states such as Pennsylvania finally (they were one of the last states to do so) passed sweeping election reform (Act 77), only to see a very liberal Pennsylvania Supreme Court permit the use of drop boxes, extend deadlines to receive mail-in ballots to 5 pm on the Friday after the election, and rule that those ballots did not need to go through a signature verification process.   While legislative efforts such as these were thwarted in Pennsylvania, similar reforms were certainly upheld in red states like Florida where possessing more than two election ballots in the sunshine state could result in a felony charge resulting in a $50,000 fine and five years in prison.  

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