Missouri to widen access to online and in-person voter registration

Missouri to widen access to online and in-person voter registration

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KFVS) - On Nov. 21, courts decided that the State of Missouri must provide voter registration services to residents who update their driver’s license or state ID address online with state’s Department of Revenue (DOR). Missouri must also streamline existing voter registration services offered in-person at state Motor Vehicle offices.

This decision is the result of an April 2018 court case where the League of Women Voters of Missouri and the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of APRI sued Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft.

League of Women Voters of Missouri and the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of APRI were represented by a team of lawyers from Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Missouri, Advancement Project National Office, and Covington & Burling LLP.

“The changes implemented by today’s settlement will help create a more inclusive democracy and better guarantee that people of color, active duty military, the elderly and low-income residents are able to exercise their right to vote,” said Naila Awan, Senior Counsel at Dēmos. “Improving and expanding the voter registration services Missourians receive when they interact with the state’s motor vehicle agency is critical in maintaining the accuracy of state voting rolls, reducing confusion at the polls, and ensuring every vote counts.”

The lawsuit alleges Missouri violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a federal law designed to aid voter registration, and failed to provide Missouri residents with the voter registration services required.

“People of color and low-income individuals are less likely to own homes or have dependable transportation, which results in more interaction with DOR." Said Keith Robinson, President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s St. Louis Chapter. "The fixes the state agreed to undergo will be critical to ensure that Missouri does not continue to shut the doors to our democracy on individuals whose voices are already underrepresented and too often unheard.”

In Sept. 2018, a federal court ordered Missouri to make interim changes in order to improve DOR’s voter registration processes ahead of midterm elections.

“Each year, one of the major causes of disenfranchisement in the State results from when Missouri voters appear at the polls and find out that they are not registered at their current address. These improvements to DOR’s voter registration practices will help reduce the number of qualified voters being shut out of the political process,” said Evelyn Maddox, President of the League of Women Voters of Missouri.

The State of Missouri will be required to apply various measures streamlining voter registration services.

Citizens who use the agency’s online change-of-address system to update the address on their license or ID, will be automatically redirected to the Secretary of State’s online voter registration system.

Information entered on the Department of Revenue’s webpage will be pre-populated on the Secretary of State site, allowing residents to more easily register or update their voter registration to reflect their new address.

The Department of Revenue will also designate a National Voter Registration Act Coordinator, and conduct internal audits of the new procedures established under the agreement. They will publish data to allow for oversight of the settlement agreement.

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