Lawsuit filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and the Missouri NAACP against the state of Missouri, Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R) and the Cole County prosecuting attorney challenging certain aspects of Missouri’s recently enacted omnibus voter suppression law, House Bill 1878. The plaintiffs bring claims against four provisions of the anti-voting law that prohibit individuals who solicit voter registration applications from being paid, require uncompensated individuals who solicit more than 10 voter registration applications to register with the secretary of state, mandate that all voter registration solicitors be registered to vote in Missouri and ban individuals or groups from asking voters if they want to fill out an absentee ballot application. Notably, H.B. 1878 fails to explicitly define what it means to “solicit a voter into obtaining an absentee ballot application” or provide clear definitions of “solicitation” and “compensation.” The plaintiffs argue that these overly vague and far-reaching provisions — under which individuals are threatened with criminal prosecution — will have a chilling effect on the efforts of their organizations that engage in voter registration, advocacy and outreach efforts. The lawsuit alleges that the challenged provisions violate the right to free speech, free association and due process under the Missouri Constitution. The plaintiffs request that the court declare the challenged provisions unconstitutional under the Missouri Constitution and prohibit the defendants from enforcing them.
On Nov. 4, in a major victory for voters, a judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, thereby blocking the four challenged provisions of H.B. 1878 that criminalized voter engagement activities and the distribution of absentee ballot applications. Litigation is ongoing.