Prohibit help for postal voting errors

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Missouri Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is urging the General Assembly to ban local election officials from helping absent voters correct mistakes, a move that would mean some votes are not counted.

“We would like to see legislation that does not cure postal ballots,” Under Secretary of State Trish Vincent told the House Elections Committee last week. “Curing” is a common term for correcting mistakes.

Kansas City Star reported this week that the demand adds to a growing list of measures put forward by Republicans to change the state’s election, including reinstating the requirement for photo ID and making it more difficult to modification of the state constitution through voter-initiated voting measures. Some similar proposals failed this year but could be considered again in the 2022 session.

During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, lawmakers in Missouri temporarily made all voters eligible to vote by mail, but demanded that most have their ballots legalized. Missouri previously needed an excuse to vote away. More than 28% of voters in Missouri voted by mail in November, up from 8% in 2018.

The House passed a bill in March that would allow postal voting without excuse for three weeks before an election – but voters would have to show photo ID. The Senate has not debated the proposal but could relaunch it next year.

“I don’t think we’re going to go back to mail like we did during COVID,” said Republican Rep. Dan Shaul of Imperial, chairman of the House Elections Committee.

State election officials rejected 5,437 mail-in ballots in November. This rejection rate of 0.6% was lower than the overall US rate of 0.8%.

Some election officials are trying to correct the ballots. KOMU-TV reported in October that clerks in Boone and Cole counties had tried to help voters with voting issues.

“If the voter forgets to sign it, why is it okay for an election authority to call them up and say you didn’t sign this, do you want to come and sign it?” Said Vincent. “Can they take their ballot out of the tabulator and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t want to vote this way, can I change it? “”

But some lawmakers say the General Assembly should instead establish rules to correct mistakes.

“Why wouldn’t the state establish a process for voters to correct their votes, we say we want people to be able to vote and their votes to count and be counted,” said Representative Joe Adams, a Democrat of the university town.


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