Missouri Legislature Passes Strict Voter Identification Bill

UPDATE: Today, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed House Bill 1878, an updated version of previously passed H.B. 2140, into law. In addition to strict photo voter ID requirements, H.B. 1878 curtails the work of third-party voter registration organizations, prohibits the use of electronic voting machines starting in 2024, prohibits private donations to election administration and bans the use of ballot drop boxes. Curiously, the bill removes Missouri’s presidential primary, replacing it with a caucus system. H.B. 1878 also authorizes two weeks of early in-person voting, but includes a provision to remove that early voting period if the voter ID requirement is found to be invalid. The new law is set to take effect on Aug. 28, in time for the Nov. 8 general election but not the Aug. 2 primary.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 12, the Missouri Legislature passed a new strict voter ID bill after earlier efforts were struck down in court. In 2020, a previous photo ID law was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court for requiring the use of a misleading affidavit. This revived effort, House Bill 2140, cleared the Republican-controlled state House and Senate during the final week of the legislative session, and now awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Parson (R). 

H.B. 2140 imposes a photo ID requirement that is significantly stricter than the current ID law, which includes a copy of utility bills and bank statements as acceptable forms of identification. Now, under H.B. 2140, a voter must present a government-issued photo ID, such as a Missouri driver’s license. If a voter lacks proper ID, they can cast a provisional ballot that won’t be counted unless they return within the same day to present valid ID or have an elections official match their ballot with a signature on file. The voter ID requirements also extend to absentee voting. 

The election bill goes beyond photo ID; H.B. 2140 bars individuals from being paid for soliciting voter registration applications and tightens the narrow list of excuses to vote absentee. The bill also asserts Missouri’s right to regulate the time, place and manner of elections, even if that means holding separate elections in a situation where the state does not agree with federal law. The bill empowers the secretary of state to withhold federal election funds to any elections office if they are not complying with cybersecurity checks and other requirements.

“This bill is a major disenfranchisement movement,” said Rep. Joe Adams (D). “It is to deny people who have fought and denied for this right to vote. It’s an attempt to restrict their participation in the process.” 

Read H.B. 1878 here.